Why I love books on writing theory

I may be odd, but I love reading books on writing theory. Part of this is because I have a need to know the ‘why’ of things. When I wrote One Small Touch is was completely by instinct. I’ve been a voracious reader my entire life and the ebb and flow of a story apparently ingrained itself on my subconscious enough that I was able to pull off a credible book.

But when it came time for my second story, I wanted to know why I wrote the way I did. Why elements worked together the way they did and why readers responded to certain things and not others. I also wanted to know how I could improve myself. How to make each successive story better than the last.

So I’ve spent the better part of the last year not only studying for college, but studying writing.

The best writing book I’ve read so far is Scene and Structure by Jack Bickham. It really lays out what makes a scene stick with a reader and what logical order a scene follows. You can bend these ‘rules’ but readers subconsciously know something is off and you can lose their interest fast.

The best ‘get your head out of your ass’ book is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. If you need to understand WHY you self-sabotage, this is the book for you.

The best all-encompassing book is David Farland’s Million Dollar Outlines. This book covers the psychology of your characters, emotional beats, settings, viewpoints, conflicts and a host of other elements. It then takes all those elements and teaches you how to tie them all together in one neat outline shaped bow in a rather unique way.

The best ‘where do I start’ book is Write Your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell. It changed how I looked at writing completely.

There were a lot of other great books I’ve read; Writing Thrillers by Michael Newton, any of the Write it Right series by Tristi Pinkston, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors by Alexandra Sokoloff, but the ones listed above stuck with me the most.

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