All the Craft Books

I mentioned in my last post that I’m working on a new manuscript. My first completed manuscript and its sequels were written totally by the pantser method with the only outline being a rough one in my head. Last year I decided to use Jeff Gerke’s Write Your Novel in a Month. It’s a basic writing craft book I highly recommend. I used it and “won” NaNoWriMo last year.

However, I realized that pantsing just doesn’t work for me. I need to plot. A couple of weeks ago, I talked about my need to abandon my rewrite and start something new. I did this in mid-September and have been working on my new manuscript. I also bought three new craft books James Scott Bell’s  Write Your Novel from the Middle, and K.M. Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel Workbook. Again, these are books I highly recommend. Bell’s is a quick read and helps you find the climax of your story and what the overall arc should look like. K.M. Weiland’s books are more about hooking your reader and making them turn the page. Lastly, I strategized how to actually write my story once it was outlined. That’s where Randy Ingermanson and his Snowflake Method come into play. He has an Excel-based program that does much of the heavy lifting for you, and it’s on my wish list. However, I took the ten Snowflake steps and created a folder with ten documents in Scrivener to use as a template for this method. So far, so good, I’m about halfway through the steps. I’ll give an update on how it’s going, probably via progress reports at some interval during NaNoWriMo.

For those of you who write, are you a plotter, pantser, or somewhere in between? What is your favorite craft book?

About Gretchen E K Engel

Chemical engineer by day, spec fiction writer by night

10 comments on “All the Craft Books

  1. Good info, Gretchen. Per your question about craft style, I’m an in-between guy. For example, for the backstory of one family’s lineage, I wrote it out. I didn’t include it in the series, but had it available to keep me on track & consistent.

    I do plot out the key scenes of a book in my head (one of the perks of being a painter with time to think!) before writing and apply the same technique to each chapter. In essence, I have an outline (or direction) but have the freedom for my imagination to work.

    My favorite craft book is “Story” by Robert McKee.

  2. My fave craft book right now is Libby Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants (haha writers joke). It breaks down outlining into major beats along your hero’s story arc. It makes for excellent plotting and a character who will always grow.

  3. Are these the kinds of books I should check out from s library, or make a permanent investment in?

  4. I am a flexible plotter. I outline the important stuff, but also try to allow the characters to have the room to take over. Sometimes even the important stuff changes, but if I have a set structure already planned out, then changes have to be justifiable.

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