Mid-Week Blog: Building the Perfect Resource Library

I am a resource book addict!

I have 50+ resource books on writing in my home office. I won't even bring up the 30+ ebooks, we can discuss those in another blog at another time.

My shelves are lined with books I've been collecting since college and even though I haven't read them all cover to cover, each one of them has helped me in their own way. If I could only keep a handful of these books, these are my top seven and the reasons why they will forever be on my shelves:

Revision and Self-Editing for Publication: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft into a Novel That Sells by James Scott Bell

The real beauty of this book is that you can use it AFTER you've written your first draft. For a "pantser" like me, a revision can be daunting. I just wrote 92,000 words and now I have to go back and fix it all? You can with this book. It comes with a handy checklist that asks key questions and offers suggestions on making your novel the best it can be.  

Story Engineering by Larry Brooks

This book is much like the previous but I found it dove deeper into the novel. What is your theme or themes? Do you have a killer hook? What are your subplots? Story Engineering deals more with the architecture of the novel and using it for the basis of your narrative.

The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction by C. S. Lakin

Lakin is a novelist who has written in the genres of sci-fi and suspense. The 12 Key Pillars dive deep into your characters, concept, conflict, and themes. At the end of each section, she lists questions that will only help deepen all of those aspects.

Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling by Donald Maass

I own an autographed copy of this baby!

Two years ago I attended a conference where Donald Maass offered a writing workshop that followed the structure of this book. Let me tell you, it was fantastic and really helped me develop the novel I was working on at the time. Maass's book helps the writer with his "arsenal of thought-provoking prompts and questions," basically taking your novel to the next level. He has other books (on my shelf) but none were as life changing as this one was for me.

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder 

I have mentioned this in prior blogs because although the theory of storytelling presented in this book is directed at screenwriters, novelists have found as much success. Using what Snyder refers to as a Beat Sheet, the writer plots out the story using a three act structure separated into 15 "beats." With titles like "dark night of the soul" and "all is lost," you can develop a story that is compelling with tension and turning points.

Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story (with workbook) by K. M. Weiland

and

Outlining Your Novel: Mapping Your Way to Success (with workbook) by K. M. Weiland

K. M. Weiland has a fantastic blog called Helping Writers Become Authors. These books are best used either way - separate or together - but I highly recommend getting the workbooks (I order extras and put the names of my novels on the cover). The workbooks are a great way to brainstorm, answer questions your novel may need to answer, etc.

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Again, these books are all helpful in the writer's journey and some may be redundant in some ways. No one book has everything you need to produce the perfect novel, but the ones mentioned above have the best advice, examples, and directives you need to make your novel as good as it can be. They're are just a handful of the best books on my shelves (see the real deal below).