My Favorite Books for Writers (and a Scrivener template)
I’m not a plotter, but I still find it useful to study story structure and the craft of writing.
THE HEROINE'S JOURNEY by Gail Carriger
— My latest foray into structure is The Heroine’s Journey by Gail Carriger. It’s an important counterpoint to the “hero’s journey” approach, and it’s not just for stories about or by women. Written in Carriger’s snarky, irreverent voice, it identifies the key elements of the heroine’s journey, gives examples of its uses in both myth and (some very) popular fiction/media, and discusses how to incorporate it into your own work.
STORY TRUMPS STRUCTURE by Steven James
— A rare book that doesn't preach outlining or demand strict structure. I also enjoyed his take on character- vs. plot-driven stories. Ultimately, he has very strong ideas about the elements and escalation of a good book, but his approach is more flexible, and he doesn’t shame you for not having the entire story figured out in advance. Pantsers/hybrids will probably appreciate this one more than die-hard plotters.
CONSIDER THIS by Chuck Palahniuk
— This book is part memoir, part really interesting writing advice. Palahniuk is the author of Fight Club, so expect some uncomfortable stories. Fans of On Writing by Stephen King (also good!) will probably enjoy this one.
TECHNIQUES OF THE SELLING WRITER by Dwight Swain
— My original must-have book. Everything in one package. See this post for more.
STORY GENIUS by Lisa Cron
— A great, in-depth approach to creating a compelling story based on how your readers' brains are wired (for more, see Lisa Cron's WIRED FOR STORY). With Lisa's permission and review, I also created a Scrivener template for this book's process that you can download and install: Story Genius.scrivtemplate. For more on using Scrivener for the Story Genius process, and instructions for installing the template, check out my post on Writer Unboxed.
GOAL, MOTIVATION, AND CONFLICT by Debra Dixon
— Helps you create believable, consistent characters. Here's an early post on this book.
STORY STRUCTURE DEMYSTIFIED by Larry Brooks (Or check out his newer books: STORY ENGINEERING and STORY PHYSICS)
— Excellent, thorough coverage of story structure, whether you plot or not. More here.
THE EMOTION THESAURUS by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
— An incredible resource for using nonverbal cues to deepen the emotion in your story. A must-have resource for any writer. Read about their old online version here. They've also added a subscription website called One Stop for Writers that has all of their fantastic resources in one place, including a bunch more useful thesauri.
BOOKBUB ADS EXPERT by David Gaughran
— Before I read this book I had no idea how to even start with BB ads. Not because the platform is difficult, but because I didn't know how to use the tool effectively. Gaughran provides a step-by-step approach to strategy, testing, and ad design that helped me figure out how to develop and execute a plan. He supplements with up-to-date online resources as well. Highly recommended.
STORY by Robert McKee
— A comprehensive overview focused on screenwriting, but with lots of helpful tips for novelists as well. Examples here.
SAVE THE CAT! and SAVE THE CAT! GOES TO THE MOVIES by Blake Snyder
— Story structure from a screen writer's perspective, with examples to illustrate the concepts.
PLOT & STRUCTURE by James Scott Bell
— Another good book on understanding plot and story structure, brainstorming, choosing story ideas, and more.
THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS by James Scott Bell
— Motivation and advice in short bursts, based on Sun Tzu.
OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL by K.M. Weiland
— A great little book for easing you into outlining (which I don't do, but I envy, lol).
WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK by Donald Maass
— Helps you write the unexpected, and strengthen your characters and storyline.
— I love this thesaurus that lets you search by concept or topic, not just word.