Don’t get me wrong, these books are essential reads for a reason, but today I want to share with you a few books on the craft of writing that may have flown under your radar.
Damn Fine Story: Mastering the Tools of a Powerful Narrative, Chuck Wendig
Hook Your Audience with Unforgettable Storytelling!
What do Luke Skywalker, John McClane, and a lonely dog on Ho’okipa Beach have in common?
Simply put, we care about them.
Great storytelling is making readers care about your characters, the choices they make, and what happens to them. It’s making your audience feel the tension and emotion of a situation right alongside your protagonist. And to tell a damn fine story, you need to understand why and how that caring happens.
Using a mix of personal stories, pop fiction examples, and traditional storytelling terms, New York Times best-selling author Chuck Wendig will help you internalize the feel of powerful storytelling. In Damn Fine Story, you’ll explore:
- Freytag’s Pyramid for visualizing story structure–and when to break away from traditional storytelling forms
- Character relationships and interactions as the basis of every strong plot—no matter the form or genre
- Rising and falling tension that pulls the audience through to the climax and conclusion of the story
- Developing themes as a way to craft characters with depth
Whether you’re writing a novel, screenplay, video game, comic, or even if you just like to tell stories to your friends and family over dinner, this funny and informative guide is chock-full of examples about the art and craft of storytelling–and how to write a damn fine story of your own.
If you’re an aspiring author and don’t know Chuck Wendig you’re doing something wrong. His blog terribleminds.com is a treasure trove of tips and tricks for aspiring authors and as well as writing a whole bunch of novels and comic books, he’s also found the time to publish several books on the craft of writing as well.
In Damn Fine Story, Wendig mixes personal anecdotes with tangible examples from some of the world’s best-known stories to explain the elements of storytelling and, most importantly, why these elements work.
It’s funny and irreverent and honestly, I got so much out of it! It really helped me think about the mechanisms of story and how I can apply them to my own work.
Fair warning, Wendig swears A LOT (and very creatively might I add) so if you’re the kind of person who gets offended by that sort of thing this one might not be for you.
2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love, Rachel Aaron
“Have you ever wanted to double your daily word counts? Do you sometimes feel like you’re crawling through your story? Do you want to write more every day without increasing the time you spend writing or sacrificing quality? It’s not impossible; it’s not even that hard. This is the book explaining how, with a few simple changes, I boosted my daily writing from 2000 words to over 10k a day, and how you can, too.”
Expanding on her highly successful system for doubling daily word counts, this book offers practical writing advice for anyone who’s ever longed to increase their daily writing output. In addition to updated information for Rachel’s popular 2k to 10k writing efficiency process, 5 step plotting method, and easy editing tips, this book includes all new chapters on creating characters who write their own stories, plot structure, and learning to love your daily writing. Full of easy to follow, practical advice from a professional author who doesn’t eat if she doesn’t produce good books on a regular basis, 2k to 10k focuses not just on writing faster, but writing better, and having more fun while you do it.
Rachel Aaron (who also writes as Rachel Bach) is an absolute powerhouse. She’s a hybrid author who has been both traditionally published and who’s recently taken to self-publishing. It’s safe to say she knows her stuff.
Her book on writing efficiency, 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love is a little different from most writing books because there’s a strong focus on the act of actually getting the words on the page as quickly as possible.
The first section breaks down the method she used to maximize her writing output and take herself from writing 2,000 words per day to over 10,000. She explains everything so well and gives real, concrete advice on how to implement her method to increase your own output.
The second section includes more traditional advice on plotting, writing memorable characters, and editing your own work.
No matter what stage of novel-writing you’re at, this book has something for you. And honestly, the eBook costs about as much as a cup of coffee so it’s an absolute steal. Highly recommend this one.
On Writing and Worldbuilding: Volume I, Timothy Hickson
Writing advice tends to be full of ‘rules’ and ‘tips’ which are either too broad to be helpful or outright wrong. In On Writing and Worldbuilding, we will discuss specific and applicable ideas to consider, from effective methods of delivering exposition and foreshadowing, to how communication, commerce, and control play into the fall of an empire.
Part I: Prologues
Part II: The First Chapter
Part III: The Exposition Problem
Part IV: Foreshadowing
Part V: Villain Motivation
Part VI: Hero-Villain Relationships
Part VII: Final Battles
Part VIII: The Chosen One
Part IX: Hard Magic Systems
Part X: Soft Magic Systems
Part XI: Magic Systems and Storytelling
Part XII: Polytheistic Religions
Part XIII: Hidden Magical Worlds
Part XIV: How Empires Rise
Part XV: How Empires Work
Part XVI: How Empires Fall
Part XVII: How I Plan a Novel
Dozens of sidenotes and extra thoughts on all these wonderful stories
My last recommendation for today is the newest release of the bunch, YouTuber Timothy Hickson’s On Writing and Worldbuilding: Volume I.
Hickson’s YouTube channel, Hello Future Me, is a fantastic resource for writers—particularly those of us who write fantasy and science fiction—and this book is basically an updated collection of Hickson’s video scripts along with some new material.
What I really appreciate about Hickson’s work is that he avoids using absolutes where possible—there’s no “you should/shouldn’t do this” to be found here. Instead, he lays out some best practices for everything from writing prologues to creating a fantasy religion and, like Wendig, he explains how and why they work.
He pulls from dozens of well-known novels and movies to illustrate his point and turn potentially abstract concepts into concrete and easy-to-grasp examples.
At $5 or so for the eBook, it’s another absolute bargain for any writer.
There you have it, three of my favourite underrated writing books! I’m always on the look-out for great new writing resources. What are some of your favourites?