A writer-friend recently asked me what my go-to craft books are, so I thought I’d share those with you here today.
Goal, Motivation, & Conflict by Debra Dixon is a must-have tool for any fiction writer. Her clear, concise explanation of these three foundational elements that drive plot, character development, and character arc really helped me up my game.
And on the topic of character development, one book I absolutely love is The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines by Cowden, LaFever, & Viders. This book details sixteen character archetypes and gives examples of what archetypes pair best to create fireworks and ultimately, change. I often pull out this book when I’m thinking of my latest characters. It’s a great resource.
Having said that, writing a straight archetype can make the characters seem cookie-cutter. For instance, the pure Bad Boy hero and the pure Waif heroine can be very vanilla. Mixing up the archetypes creates rich, three-dimensional characters.
In Dreams of Her Own, my heroine, Millie, is a combination of the Librarian and the Waif, while my hero, Ian, is a Bad Boy/Lost Soul combo.
Another terrific set of books for character development is Angela Ackerman’s and Becca Puglisi’s The Positive Traits Thesaurus and The Negative Traits Thesaurus. The last thing we want is to create perfect characters—those flat, uninteresting beings whom we grow to loathe because they have no flaws. These books list good and bad character (and some can be both) attributes, along with possible reasons why a trait might emerge, as well as associated attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, and emotions.
Ackerman and Puglisi also have The Emotion Thesaurus, and recently released two more: The Rural Setting Thesaurus and The Urban Setting Thesaurus.
For newbie writers I strongly recommend reading Noah Lukeman’s First Five Pages. It’s a quick read, but packed full of good advice, as well as exercises to improve your craft.
Finally, my grammar and punctuation bible is The Elements of Style by Strunk and White.This book is a classic! First released in 1920, it’s in its fourth edition.
Okay, so that’s more than five. Sue me. ☺
What are your go-to craft books?