When I finally decided to make the leap from notebook scribbling to writing a novel, I knew a large chunk of time would go toward learning the craft. Old-school notebooks are still my go-to in the beginning stages of a new book, and I will forever be honing my writing skills. In the beginning, I hid the first few books from public view for fear of people thinking I was nuts to even attempt something so daunting as finishing a full-length novel. And to have the audacity to assume anyone would want to publish something I wrote was unthinkable. Today, my secret is out in the open, and I’m sharing a few of the resources that played a role in moving me toward seriously pursuing this dream.
Writing Fiction for Dummies, by Randy Ingermason & Peter Economy
This book is an excellent resource for beginners with an easy-to-follow format. Every section is useful, but readers will find themselves taking copious notes, highlighting, and tabbing the sections on creating believable believable characters, building a story world, three-act structure, synopsis, scenes, action, dialogue, editing, the road to publication, plot, theme, genre, editing, interior monologue…okay the list is endless.
Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies, by Leslie Wainger
Like all Dummies books, this resource is easy to navigate and ideal for aspiring romance writers. Sections to take notes from, highlight, and tab include how to create compelling characters, writing conflict/climax/resolution, scenes, outlining, love scenes, research, the road to publication, the Top Ten lists, and..okay, everything else in between.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
The infamous and unparalleled Mr. King states that this is not a how-to book. But he shares a wealth of invaluable knowledge and expertise in these pages. Cue copious note-taking. An added bonus is the memoir. A glimpse into his backstory and personal anecdotes from early writing days were a delight to read.
Writing the Cozy Mystery, by Nancy J. Cohen
As a fan of the Bad Hair Day mystery series, I was thrilled to come across this how-to by one of my favorite cozy mystery authors. This book is another easy-to-follow resource filled with information on creating a sleuth, casting the suspects, building suspense, including a sprinkle of romance, crafting a series, and marketing tips.
Show Don’t Tell, by Sandra Gerth
This title is one of the cardinal rules for any fiction writer. However, at times, the task is easier said than done. A slew of writing exercises accompany the tips for describing backstory and emotions. I appreciate the section on recognizing and fixing instances of telling.
The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, by Becca Puglisi & Angela Ackerman
After a brief, but useful, introduction to showing (not telling) emotion, readers are provided with a seemingly endless list of emotions, related physical signs/behaviors, mental responses, acute/long-term responses, signs the emotion is being suppressed, and power verbs. This book is a must-have in the arsenal of any aspiring fiction writer.
The Dictionary of Body Language: A Field Guide to Human Behavior, by Joe Navarro
Joe Navarro was a special agent for the FBI and has been called a body language expert. This book was not likely intended for authors. But the insight into the smallest details and subtlest changes in human movement and expression has landed this title at the top of my resource list.
The Elements of Style, by William Strunk & E.B. White
On Writing, by Stephen King introduced me to the smallest and mightiest must-have books to have on hand when writing. Grammar junkies rejoice!