Let’s talk about craft, baby. Let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be… let’s talk aboooout craft, let’s talk about craft. All right. Enough Salt N’ Pepa—if there is such a thing— let’s get down to it: perfecting your craft with writing and editing books.
6 Writing and Editing Books for Perfecting Your Craft
In this article, we’re going to go over a list of some of our favorite craft books for editing and writing. Here we go!
The Emotional Craft of Fiction.
The Emotion Thesaurus.
Creating Character Arcs.
How to Write Dazzling Dialogue.
Keep reading to learn more!
1. The Emotional Craft of Fiction
I love this book. I’ve never read a book that makes me look so critically at my work and make opportunities I’ve missed to create a real connection to and for my readers more clear than Donald Maass does with this gift to writers.
In any genre, emotion is key. But even more so in romance.
It doesn’t matter if you are writing an angsty romance that drags your characters through hell before you deliver them to their happily ever after, or a romantic comedy where your readers spend time laughing instead of crying. An emotional connection to your book is undoubtedly one of the most important components of writing. The exercises Maass provides throughout The Emotional Craft of Fiction are invaluable, causing you to immediately spot missed opportunities in your writing and leave you with lasting knowledge on how to give your readers an emotional experience.
2. The Emotion Thesaurus
If you are like me and probably every other author out there, you have heard this at least once (who are we kidding, at least a hundred times): Show, don’t tell. If you are like me and dread hearing this while editing, then the thesaurus books by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi will be your most used books. I have the hard copy and an eBook of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression. I will be forever grateful for this recommendation. While I might not always use the examples given, these books always break down the slowly forming writer’s block that threatens to rise with drafting. They also force me to search my mind to make my writing as strong as it can be.
3. Story Genius
I first heard of this book from Alexis Daria’s blog. As a self-proclaimed pantser, I wasn’t convinced and when I saw a section called “The Myth of Pantsing,” I almost returned it.
But, then I remembered the four years of my life I spent writing a book I had to completely scrap, and I gave Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel a chance. Lisa Cron shares advice that cannot be denied. She teaches us how to craft a “riveting novel.” From the inside out, she helps us build and plan a complex, successful story.
4. Creating Character Arcs
I would say that having strong, appealing characters your readers can connect with is the most important part of a novel. I have read books where the plot is a little predictable and not necessarily my cup of tea, but I love the heroine so much that I am physically unable to put the book down until I know she has her HEA.
In K.M. Weiland’s Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development, she helps writers create character arcs that draw in both agents and readers. You’ll learn to use the three-act story structure to help shape and look deep into your characters. At the end of each chapter, she provides a list of questions that force you, as a writer, to focus on your characters so they jump off the page and stay with your reader long after they read “The End.”
5. How to Write Dazzling Dialogue
If you’re like me, dialogue is both your favorite part of writing and biggest fear. Writing dialogue can go one of two directions: grabbing the reader, pulling them into the lives of your characters, or pushing them out of your story with a solid shove to the chest.
With his book, James Scott Bell teaches writers how to elevate their story through dialogue. Providing examples from some of our favorite books, movies, and television shows, Bell teaches us how tension, story information, and themes can be revealed through dialogue between characters. He also touches on dialogue issues including punctuation, adverbs, action tags, cursing, and inner dialogue. At 135 pages, How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript isn’t the longest of the bunch, but it’s a useful guide for anyone, answering questions we might not even realize we have.
6. Write Naked
I read this book on a plane ride. It is a fun read that relates to the romance writer like no other book I’ve come across. Jennifer Probst’s inspiring journey to becoming the successful author she is today is one that will be sure to stick with you. It doesn’t go as in depth into craft as some other books, but it touches on areas so romance-specific, you’ll be hard-pressed to find them elsewhere.
Whether she’s discussing tips to perfecting your social media or the importance of secondary characters in romance, you’ll fly through the pages of Write Naked: A Bestseller’s Secrets to Writing Romance & Navigating the Path to Success, soaking up the advice of one of our industry’s most successful writers and wishing your new best friend, Jennifer, would meet you for coffee to discuss the rollercoaster of writing.
Hone Your Craft
Which one of these writing and editing books is a must-have on your bookshelf? Subscribe to All The Kissing and comment below for a chance to win the craft book of your choice!