Purple Prose + writerly books

The Twelve Days of Christmas for Writers: Day Eight

©Stina Lindenblatt

I’ve blogged about books that help you create kickass characterizations. Now you need a page-turning plot so they can shine. This is where the following books come in:

Most writers who have read Save the Cat by Blake Snyder agree it’s a great resource for creating your plot. The beats described by Blake help me structure the story before I write my outline. For more info on the book, check out this blog post.

Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass is a definite must have for plotting (and characterization). In the section on plot development, Donald provides numerous exercises for creating a layered plot and compelling subplots. You can use this book before writing the first draft or afterwards.

If you LOVE to plan, The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby is for you. I’ve never read a more comprehensive book on plotting compared to this one. By the time you’ve finished all the exercises, you’ll have figured out your premise, story structure, characters, moral argument, story world, symbol web, plot, and scenes. The book uses tons of examples based on well known movies.

Writing Screenplays That Sell by Michael Hauge is another popular book. It’s good, but it wasn’t one of my favorites (someone recommended it to me). I do think it’s a great book for writers who need the basics but don’t want to deal with the exercises in John Truby’s book. At the end of it, Michael analyzes the movie Avatar.

Two other books I thought worth mentioning include Emotional Structure: Creating the StoryBeneath the Plot by Peter Dunne and Screenwriting Tricks for Authors (and Screenwriters!) by Alexandra Sokoloff.

These books are worth the money, but you definitely don’t need them all. I borrowed John’s book from the library and realized I had to have it. It’s the best book on plotting I’ve read. But it is a lot of work if you do all the exercises.

Overall, the first three are my all-time favorites. I do recommend, though, if you’re new to writing fiction, you read Writing Screenplays That Sell or Screenwriting Tricks for Authors (and Screenwriters!) first. They cover the essentials. After that, I would add Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook to your library. Writers who don’t like outlining swear by Save The Cat.

Do you have a favorite book on plotting? Do you outline or do you jump into the first draft when starting a new project?


On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .

Six books for page-turning plots,
Workshops to make me smarter,
One sexy dance outfit,
A membership to a writing organization,
Three books for kickass characterizations,
Tons of yummy chocolate,
AquaNotes, so you can brainstorm in the shower,
And Margie Lawson’s awesome lecture notes.

12 days of Christmas, best, book, favorite, fiction, love, movie, Novel, plotting, and more:

The Twelve Days of Christmas for Writers: Day Eight + writerly books