Recommended Writing Books

There are many books on writing to choose from, and these are some of our favorites:

structuring 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 from the middle 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 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 Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print (Renni Brown & Dave King) (Affiliate link) This is an essential editing book for all writers. Sharpen your editing skills so that each book you write sings. Our copies are well-used!

description-monica-wood Description (Elements of Fiction Writing) (Monica Wood) (Affiliate link) This was our gateway book to learning how to write description that creates an impact. We would not be the writers we are today without this book!

On Writing 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.

c&S 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.

Grammar 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 the basics. This is a must have for getting your grammar up to snuff. Polish your writing and put out great product with this helpful guide.

21st century 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.

savethecat 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.

wsts 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!

Heros-Two-Journeys-by-Michael-Hauge-Chris-Vogler-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 MachinesRise 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.

heartofyourstoryWriting 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-geniusStory 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 sextuplets, 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.

And finally, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus tackles a virtually unexplored area of writing: the impact of psychological trauma. If you want to go deeper than ever before to really understand the fears motivating your character and the past wounds he or she must overcome to grow and change, these 118 different wounding events, and accompanying groundbreaking teaching content, will help you do it.

Our books are a favorite with writers, editors, and agents all over the world, and are used in university level programing. To date, they’ve been translated into 8 languages and collectively sold over 500,000 copies. 

To find out more about our guides, check out the generous samples via the “search inside” feature at Amazon, (Affiliate link) read a few of our 1000+ reviews, or visit our bookstore for an in-depth description of each volume.

Happy writing!

Angela & Becca















45 Responses to Recommended Writing Books

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  3. Don Royster says:

    A book that was extremely helpful to me was The Weekend Novelist. The first edition is now out of print. A new edition is available on kindle. The Weekend Novelist is devoted to a person with a full time job and who can only write on weekends. For each weekend, Ray gives a tutorial, then exercises based on the tutorial devoted to the writer’s novel. There is also a The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery and The Weekend Novelist Re-writes the Novel (about revision). I have read hundreds of books on writing but these cover all the basics. This was where I first learned about Syd Field’s guide to structure.

  4. Jacqueline says:

    Just want to let you know that I have all your books and I love them. I’m reading all your online entries for the conflict thesaurus and its my favorite thesaurus of all. Looking forward to every new blog post and would love to see it as a book in future!

    • This is wonderful to hear! I’m glad you’re enjoying our books and particularly this thesaurus :). It’s still kind of in the beginning stages, but any publication decisions would be made based on reader interest, so this is good to know. I hope you have a wonderful day.

  5. GMTX says:

    Are second edition books in the works for all your thesaurus books? How long before your conflict thesaurus will be ready?

    • Hi there! While expanding the other books is always an option, we currently don’t have plans to do that with any of the others. As far as the Conflict Thesaurus goes, our typical process is to vet it here at the blog and see what kind of response we get before decided if it’s a good option for publication. If we get a good response, it’s very likely it will be turned into a book. But because we just started it a few months ago, it will be a while before we make a decision on it. It sounds like you’re enjoying it. If you’d like to stay updated on new publications, you can sign up for that newsletter here ( It only goes out when we have news about an upcoming release. Happy writing!

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  7. Paul J P Slater says:

    I just found your website. Not sure why it has taken me so long. I came across your ONE STOP jpg files and have enjoyed reading them.
    I spotted a small typo on this page … (Spethen King). You might want to look into this.

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  9. Hi!
    At this moment I’m reading “Story Genius”. I didn’t finish it yet, but I do recommend this book! K.M. Weiland books are also good!
    I would like to suggest another book: “A Writer’s Guide to Active Setting” by Mary Buckham.

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  12. Kristen Fulton says:

    Am I missing it? Back when it was only the emotion thesaurus, as you added new emotions, you created a “companion” document. I had downloaded it and printed it off. Kept it folded in my book. Now, it is so bedraggled that it is time to reprint. I purchased the ebook thinking that it might have it all together but nope. Help. Where it that?

    • Kristen, are you thinking of Emotional Amplifiers? That’s a companion booklet to The Emotion Thesaurus, but it’s not something we continually add to; it’s a published books and contains 15 states of being that can amplify a character’s emotion: hunger, sickness, pain, attraction, inebriation, etc. It’s being sold for $.99, and you can find it on our Bookstore page.

  13. Darla Lark says:

    I have all 6 books, but I’ve been using the Emotion Thesaurus, Negative Trait Thesaurus, and Positive Trait Thesaurus for a while. They have been helping so much. I can’t wait to see what you put out there next. You are amazing.

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  15. JustMe says:

    I just bought the thesaurus books (along with K.M. Weiland’s Creating Character Arcs) and I’m finding them extremely useful. (PS: the Rural Setting Thesaurus links to the the Urban version.)

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  19. I have your book The Emotion Thesaurus, and it’s amazing! It has helped me broaden my ability to express feelings through showing and not telling. I ordered the Positive and Negative Traits books and can’t wait to get them. I’m working on my fifth book and always looking for ways to learn and improve. Thank you both for sharing your talents and helping us writers improve our craft.

    • Thanks so much for the kind note, Jerrid. I’m very happy to hear that our books are helping you learn and improve—though with 5 books under your belt, you’re going to learn so much more through simple hard work and tenacity. Good for you! And thanks for your support :).

  20. Gregory Jeffers says:

    Don’t know how you missed “Bird By Bird” by Anne Lamott. For my money, it’s in the league with King’s and Bradbury’s books on writing.
    Thanks for publishing “The Emotion Thesaurus”; a great tool.

    • LOL, believe it or not, I have never read that one. I know it comes highly recommended, but seeing as I haven’t read it yet, I left it off the list. I better get reading…

      • Eric says:

        I’m stumped that “Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain ” isn’t on this list. That book is canon. Also worthy of honorable mention are:

        “Stein On Writing by Sol Stein ”

        “Writing Fiction For Dummies by Randy Ingermanson , Peter Economy ”

        “Immediate Fiction: A Complete Writing Course by Jerry Cleaver ”

        “The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman”

        • HI Eric,

          This is just a list of our particular favorites. There are many worthy writing books out there, but these are the ones that really resonated with Becca and myself. 🙂

  21. Ben says:

    Well thanks a lot. Now I’ve blown $100 on Amazon. Doggone it! Writing is almost as bad on my wallet as gaming.

  22. Andy says:

    Hello Angela & Becca (or is it Becca & Angela?),

    I was wondering something. I wanted to get your Emotion, Positive and Negative Thesauri.

    But I wonder whether your Emotion Thesaurus has an entry for “Sadness”? (For instance, say, your character has just lost her sister)

    Also, if I want to make my characters stronger, do I start with the Positive Trait Thesaurus? Or do I start with the Negative Trait Thesaurus? Which start (positive or negative) would be better for beginning writers and which start would be better for experienced writers?


    • Hi, Andy! Thanks for your interest in our books. To answer your questions, yes, The Emotion Thesaurus does have an entry for sadness, so that may be able to help with your character’s situation. As for the character books, I don’t think one or the other is better from an experience standpoint; both of them cover different material that helps to explain where our characters’ traits come from. The front matter of The Negative Trait Thesaurus digs pretty deeply into where flaws are born; it explores wounding events from the past, lies that we adopt in an effort to keep from experiencing those hurts again, and the flaws that result. The Positive Trait Thesaurus covers not only how positive traits are formed, but also how to choose the right attributes for a character, how to show (instead of telling) those attributes, and common pitfalls when creating characters. So, honestly, I think it depends on which information could be of most help to you.

      My suggestion is to use the Look Inside feature at Amazon and go through the Table of Contents for each book. See what jumps out at you as being something you need to learn more about, and go from there.

      Happy writing!

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  24. khim says:

    help me in writing my article about an orphan tent.. I don’t have any idea about that.. i’m just 14.

  25. khim says:

    can you teach me how to write a book?

    • HI Khim,

      Good for you for writing a book–that’s great! What I suggest to all young writers is to get involved in a critique group, because we learn so much from others and it can really speed the process up when we can draw on another’s knowledge and perspective. Becca and I both joined The Critique Circle, which also has many teen writers in addition to adults of all genres. You should check it out! I’ll leave the link here.

      Happy writing!

  26. Kemala Tribe says:

    I can already see that your books are concise and worthy of being labeled TOOLS. I’m so excited to have found your books and now your website. The Emotion Thesaurus is on its way (in Dead Tree Format as my son would say) and I’ve bought the other two as ebooks. I’m about halfway through the intro chapters of Positive Traits. You have provided exactly what I need. I have known for some time that I don’t know my heroine well enough, and that what I do know about her I haven’t “shown” well enough to make her truly accepted by readers. The secondary characters, strangely enough, came to me well-defined. This is my first foray into novel writing – well, any writing, really – and I can see that of all the books I’ve read/purchased, yours are exactly what I need exactly when I need it. Thank you, ladies!

    • I am thrilled that you found these books just when you needed to–I absolutely love that when this happens to me! Very excited for you that you’re jumping into novel writing. This community is filled with the very best people, and there is help everywhere. 🙂

      Sometimes secondary characters come to us more easily because the pressure is off, and we can let our creative minds take over more. The protag, there is so much we must do and show, so many layers to get right. Secondary characters are important and fulfill an important role in the hero’s development, but they aren’t the star. This gives us a bit more freedom to write instinctively. 😉

  27. Eva Calderon says:

    I purchased the negative trait thesaurus and loved it so much I just purchased the emotions and positive traits books as well. Very well written, we information every writer needs to know. I highly recommend these books.

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