When you’re learning the craft of writing (and really, who ever finishes?) the subject of craft writing books often comes up. There are the usual suspects which seem to crop up on many a recommendation list, such as Stephen King’s On Writing. Debra Dixon’s GMC and Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat. I actually do recommend Save The Cat, I’m a wannabe plotter and I found the explanations in this book really helped me to clarify and hone in on my ideas before I write Chapter One.
However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of buying a ton of craft books and burying yourself whilst trying to learn. I wanted to share my recommendations for practical craft books that have helped me and that I have actually used. The common theme in these books is that they’re easy to use, they have practical application to your writing NOW (i.e. you don’t need to read 300 hundred pages before you can start using the information).
This is a fantastic book to help you better show your characters emotions rather than tell. Each emotion has a page dedicated to it (e.g. Anger, Fear, Gratitude, Insecurity etc) with a description, the physical signs, internal sensations, mental reactions as well as tips for writing emotion. This is not a book you need to read back to front, rather you have it on hand to help you flesh out your scenes with life-like emotion.
I love this book so much I purchased the physical copy and then the Kindle version.
Similar to The Emotion Thesaurus, these two books help you to create life-like 3D characters by deepening your characterisation. Set out in a similar fashion, these two books have a double page for each character trait (e.g. Funny, Creative, Bold, Hostile, Apathetic) with a definition, possible causes, associated attitudes and behaviours, thoughts, emotions and examples from film. The examples from film are fantastic and they include a lot of films that people of any age would know (Die Hard, Harry potter and The Wizard of Oz all get mentions).
Again this is a permanent on my desk when I am planning a story and I have both the paper and ebook version.
I imagine this is a much lesser known book, but the author name will be familiar to many romance writers. BJ Daniels is a best selling romantic suspense writer with MANY books to her name since she first got published in 1995. This book is short, sweet and peppered with a mixture of writing tips, things to think about, motivation, examples to explain techniques and snippets of her own writing journey. Many of the examples are from romance books too, which is great. I love the no nonsense tone and I particularly like the writing assignments at the end of each chapter. It’s the kind of book you could challenge yourself to read a chapter a week and complete the assignments as you go.
OK, so this isn’t a craft book but it IS one of my most used writing resources. I have my illustrated version of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style but this site is so quick and easy to use. Want to know the difference between further and farther? Or whether or not you should capitalise the F in French Fries? Grammar Girl will tell you quickly, sharply and without fuss. Plus she has a short snappy podcast in case you prefer to listen to your grammar lessons.
There you have it, my 5 writing craft recommendations for romance writers or writers of any genre! Have you used any of the above? Any that you would add to this list?