Monthly Mash-up: 10 Writing Craft Books And Blog Posts

April 28th, 2012

writing craft books and blog postsThere are so many great writing craft books and blog posts out there I just had to do my first monthly mash-up focusing on those. The following are some of my favorite books, in no particular order:

Writing craft books:

  1. If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland — Brenda shows us that no writing is absolute crap. In fact, she challenges us to write the worst piece possible, then goes on to show how in even the worst there will be a few gems. She tells us cherish the quiet moments because that is when our stories are percolating.
  2. Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell — James walks us through the four act set-up, character arc, various plotting methods and a myriad of other techniques that make writing more efficient (if you’re a plotter, that is). Pantsers can find great information in this book, as well, with questions to ponder either before or after the first draft and different methods of revising once the draft is complete.
  3. Story Engineering by Larry Brooks — Larry explains the six core competencies of concept, character, theme, story structure (plot), scene construction and writing voice, showing us why each of these are important to writing a great story. He also breaks structure down into easily understandable points and gives an idea of how to judge the length of a potential story.
  4. The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes — Ralph helps writers understand that we are not alone in our fears. He gives anecdotes of how famous authors coped with that fear, even encouraging each of us to develop rituals that help get us through the fear of setting words on the page (or screen).
  5. Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell — From redefining failure and success to learning how to embrace failures, John shows us that making both small and monumental mistakes is something to strive for rather than try to avoid. If you’re worrying about falling on your face as a writer, especially as an indie, this is a great book for learning how to accept failing as part of becoming successful.

Writing craft books aren’t the only place to get great information. There are hundreds, perhaps millions, of great blog posts with exceptional advice on how to be the best writer you can be. Here are just a few:

Writing Blog Posts:

  1. Do You Judge A Book By Its Cover by Diana Murdock — Diana gives us a peak into how she chose the cover of her book, Souled.
  2. Tips for Writing Back Cover Copy a guest post by Roz Morris on Jamie Gold’s blog — Having trouble condensing your entire book into a couple of paragraphs? Roz has some tips on what do to and what not to do to capture your story and make readers want to snuggle up with your book.
  3. Saying ‘No’ — A Successful Writer’s Must by August McLaughlin — If you’re struggling to get any writing accomplished because others think you can drop everything to help them, the August has some great ideas on how to set boundaries.
  4. Ask the Editor: How can I cut back on the abundance of pronouns in my writing? by Kira McFadden on Novel Publicity — Having problems with an abundance of he/she/it? Kira shows us how to rewrite passages to limit the number of pronouns used.
  5. 7 Setting Basics That Can Bring a Story to Life by Jody Hedlund — Setting can really bring a scene alive and move the plot forward if we use it properly. Jody gives us 7 ways to make setting almost a character in itself.

These are 10 of my favorite writing craft books and blog posts. I have hundreds more because I’m a craft junkie, as Jillian Kent said in her guest post on Rachelle Gardner’s blog. (Psst… That’s #11. :D) I’m always looking for more blogs to read and books to buy on the craft of writing, so, if you have one you love, please share it in the comments. Happy writing!

Novel By Critique Group

September 17th, 2011

Welcome to Toolbox Saturday where you’ll find tools for various things from writing to whatever.

Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris, available at

I’ve picked up a lot of great writing tips from Roz Morris’ blog and absolutely love her book Nail Your Novel. The following is one of the many useful posts she’s written.

I rewrote my novel through a critique group but I’ve lost my way

by Roz Morris

Critique groups are a great way to develop a critical sense and to experiment with what works. And to meet other people who are as dedicated to writing as you are. But too many cooks…

I’ve had this email from Vanessa, which is a fairly common problem.

During the past 12 months, I rewrote my novel 8 times as part of a critique group, and now I’m wondering if I should just go back to my first draft and start over. My book is different now, in some ways better, in some ways worse. I’m not even sure I can work with it in its present, 8th incarnation. I’m feeling a bit discouraged and don’t know how to recapture the original freshness. I think there are some good changes in the revisions, but also a lot of bad direction. How will I sort through it?

Discounting the fact that some of the advice might be misguided, inept or even destructive, even the most accomplished critiquers will offer different approaches when they spot a problem. You get a lot of input and you don’t know which to ignore. You try to knit them into a coherent whole and then realise you’re lost. And the idea is worn to shreds.

Read the rest.


If you’re looking for ideas and examples on simple ways to pray in my book Simply Prayer, available in print, for KindleNook and audio book.