Great Writing Guides Are Gold. Some of Our Favorites…
Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story (K.M. Weiland) (Affiliate link) This is a blueprint of the 3-act structure and all the important milestones to hit like the inciting incident, catalyst, the character’s black moment and more. A must have for building rich, meaningful story lines and I can’t say enough about it’s usefulness.
Write Your Novel From The Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between (James Scott Bell) (Affiliate link) offers an innovative new approach to story structure, perfect for pantsers and plotters alike. Hone in on your hero’s difficult mirror moment and create a powerful character arc!
Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success (K.M. Weiland) (Affiliate link) A great book for pantsers wanting to adopt a bit more novel structure, or writers looking to create a map for their story to follow! If you need some guidance as you outline, this is the book for you.
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print (Renni Brown & Dave King) (Affiliate link) This essential editing book is for writers of all levels. This is one of the first books we purchased and we still use them today! Sharpen your skills so that each book you write sings…our copies are well-used.
Description (Elements of Fiction Writing) (Monica Wood) (Affiliate link) This was our gateway book to learning how to write description via show-don’t-tell that creates an impact. (We would not be the writers we are today without this book!) Highly recommended…an excellent guide.
On Writing – A Memoir Of The Craft (Stephen King) (Affiliate link) A classic read by a master storyteller. This book is perfect for writers looking to turn a hobby into a career, and the advice within is smart and direct. If you know King’s work, you’ll find it very interesting to see how he pulls from events in his own life to create powerful fiction.
Elements of Fiction Writing – Conflict and Suspense (James Scott Bell) (Affiliate link) This will help you pull readers into the character’s world and keep them on the edge of their seat. Tension is something that all great writers must master, and this bestselling thriller writer can help you do it.
Say What? The Fiction Writer’s Handy Guide to Grammar, Punctuation, and Word Usage (C.S. Lakin) (Affiliate link) For our books to be their best, we have to learn and apply the basics. This is a must-have for getting your grammar up to snuff and making sure you’re using the correct terms. Polish your writing and put out a great product with this helpful guide.
Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling (Donald Maass) (Affiliate link) If you are looking for something that can help you add greater depth to your characters and writing, this is it. Highly recommended, especially for advanced writers looking to up their game. This is a good follow up book of Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel, another great choice for mastering tension.
Save the Cat (Blake Snyder) (Affiliate link) offers advanced story structure help through the filter of film. Screenwriters must condense a wide angle story into a feature, meaning they know exactly how to distill the best moments of any novel or play. We can learn a ton from screenwriting, and this book should be required reading for anyone who wants to really understand the power of storytelling.
Writing Screenplays That Sell, New Twentieth Anniversary Edition: The Complete Guide to Turning Story Concepts into Movie and Television Deals (Michael Hauge) The title is long, but the book is nothing short of brilliant. Hauge is a story master and tackles structure from within the character. This book will shed light on internal and external conflict, inner and outer motivation, and the role each character plays in the story. This book will make you a stronger writer–make sure to get the 20-th Anniversary edition!
Hero’s 2 Journeys Streaming Series (Hauge/Vogler) I am tooting the screenplay horn again, because this streaming series between story experts Michael Hauge and Christopher Vogler is one of the most wonderful things I have come across. If you want to understand story structure at a deep level and actually see how important the hero’s Internal and External Journeys work in tandem to create an unforgettable character, grab this. Grab it now. If you write novels, don’t think this isn’t for you. It’s for anyone who wants to create breakout characters and write story lines that will grab readers from start to finish.
Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World (Kristen Lamb) (Affiliate link) is a book to have on hand to navigate the social media world. A huge advocate of writers, Kristen knows her way around a platform and will help you build it the WANA way, showing you how to form genuine relationships with readers instead of adding to the void of promotional white noise.
Writing the Heart of Your Story: The Secret to Crafting an Unforgettable Novel (The Writer’s Toolbox Series)(C.S. Lakin) (Affiliate link) is a must-have resource that will help you find the beating heart of your story and use craft techniques to build an exceptional story that will offer your audience an unforgettable reading experience. I beta read this book a year ago, and am thrilled to see it released at last.
Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Lisa Cron) (Affiliate link) takes a deep look at the character’s inner emotional struggle and how it generates a raw and inescapable current of emotion (the third rail) that drives the story. This book includes step-by-step planning to uncover the hidden parts of your character and how to use it to plan your story so every aspect touches the third rail.
And yes, we’re adding our bestselling guides, too!
(Affiliate links below)
The Emotion Thesaurus, (now expanded to 130 entries!) along with The Positive Trait Thesaurus and The Negative Trait Thesaurus will help you craft unique, emotionally compelling characters. These books have been called “ultimate show-don’t tell guides” and “writing bibles” by many writers.
The Urban Setting Thesaurus and The Rural Setting Thesaurus are description game-changers for writers. Filled with description lessons, examples, and yes, sensory detail for 225 different locations, writers will learn how to master description and add incredible depth and meaning to their storytelling.
The Emotional Wound Thesaurus tackles a virtually unexplored area of writing: the impacts of psychological trauma. If you want to go deeper than ever before to really understand the fears motivating your character and the past wounds they must overcome to grow and change, these 118 different wounding events, and accompanying groundbreaking teaching content, will help you do it.
The Occupation Thesaurus enables you to fast-track the reader’s understanding of a character without chunky paragraphs of description that kill the story’s pace. Not only that, but it also shows you how a common element of daily life can be used to explore story goals, relationships, themes, and even the character’s internal growth! Activate the power of your character’s occupation using this incredible database of careers.
The Conflict Thesaurus (Vol 1) GOLD Edition dives deep into the challenges, problems, inner struggles, adversaries, and obstacles that become the gauntlet our characters must navigate if they are to achieve their goal. Conflict and tension is a story’s secret sauce, and we want plenty of it on the page. The Conflict Thesaurus (Vol 2) SILVER Edition continues to explore conflict through power struggles, ego-related stressors, dangers and threats, advantage and control losses, and other miscellaneous challenges. Keep this book close as it will help you use conflict as a golden thread, tying your plot and arc together. It will also help you optimize your climatic moment, build better subplots, and more.
Last but not least, Emotion Amplifiers is an ebook companion for The Emotion Thesaurus, covering states that naturally galvanize emotion. Amplifiers are often mistaken for emotions and are used almost as often by writers in fiction.
Our books are a favorite with writers, editors, and agents all over the world, and are used in university-level programming. To date, they can be found in 10 languages and have sold over 900,000 copies.
To find out more about our guides, check out the generous samples via the “search inside” feature at Amazon, read a few of our 10,000+ reviews, or visit our bookstore for an in-depth description of each volume and links to the stores where you can find these books.
Angela & Becca