Book Options: Please check out the descriptions for the different craft books below and vote for whichever one you’re most interested in reading together!
Save the Cat! Writes a Novel (Jessica Brody):
Save the Cat! is originally a screenwriting book, but there’s a whole series of different books based on the original screenwriting beats, and Brody’s is geared specifically toward novels. This book is primarily about story structure. It walks us through 15 major story beats that you can spot in pretty much any book or movie, and then dives into 10 different “genres” of story (it defines different genres within storytelling, as opposed to the typical genres used for marketing, which is interesting). It includes tons of examples from published books and checklists for applying different beats within your story at the end of each section. Brody stresses that it’s not an outline or a formula, but a way of thinking through the common patterns and elements that make up a great story, and can be applicable for plotters and pantsers alike. Cost is about $11 on Amazon, $16 at a bookstore.
On Writing (Stephen King):
This one is part memoir, part writing advice book. Stephen King is an extremely talented, prolific, and famous trad published author ( Carrie, The Shining, It, The Stand , a million others…) who writes primarily in the thriller/horror genres. On Writing walks us through his experience as a writer, his process, and some of his advice for aspiring writers. It’s less of a concrete, strategy toolbox than the other two books we’re considering, but it still contains clear strategies, processes and priorities. King focuses on the fundamentals, what he considers the basics of storytelling and writing. Plus, he’s a funny dude with strong opinions and it’s an enjoyable read. Cost is about $15 on Amazon, $17 at a bookstore.
The Fire in Fiction (Donald Maass):
Maass is a long-time literary agent, head of the Donald Maass agency in NYC, and has written a bunch of books on writing drawing on his experience working with aspiring and successful authors. The Fire in Fiction is chock-full of strategies and examples of the writing techniques Maass believes separate a good book from a great one. He focuses more on how to put characters in the driver’s seat for a story, more on scene construction than overall story structure, and on eliciting emotional investment from a reader. He also shares valuable perspective on the most common gaps and errors that lead to rejections from his agency. There are writing exercises and questions for reflecting on/unpacking your process at the end of each chapter. Cost is about $15 on Amazon, $17 at a bookstore.
- Save the Cat! Writes a Novel
- On Writing
- The Fire in Fiction
Books on writing craft to check out:
- Damn Fine Story (Chuck Wendig)
- The Art of Writing Fiction (Andrew Cowan)
- If You Want To Write a Novel (Brenda Ueland)
- How Not to Write a Novel (Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark)
- The Elements of Style (Strunk and White)
- Eats, Shoots & Leaves (Lynne Truss)
- How To Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead (Ariel Gore)
- Adult Learner’s Writing Guide (Chambers)
- Anatomy of a Story (John Truby)
- Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott)