Monday 22 July 2019

Okay, Just One More

I’m going to own up to this right now. I have a problem—it’s a good problem—but a problem none-the-less.

I am addicted to writing craft books.

I just can’t say no! They are like my own form of Pringles! Maybe not so tasty but certainly better for my hips. 

Image courtesy of

This has been a lifelong habit for me; Whenever I find a topic of interest I always go overboard. E.g. Husband bought me a rose, but how does one look after a rose? Off to the library I went, seventeen books on roses later, well let’s just say I haven’t killed the rose yet.

With writing craft books, I started small. I went to the library and borrowed/reserved every writing book I could get my greedy little hands on. There weren’t a lot that actually covered my genre: Romance. That meant it was time to dig deeper. Booktopia, Ever After Book Store, Amazon… One little click into Google and I was buried with suggestions on the best ever romance writing craft books.

My writing craft collection

Over time I’ve built up quite a little collection (see picture above) But I thought I’d do a mini run down on those that I CANNOT live without. These babies sit beside me as I write, their corners well licked from my desperate thumbing of pages to find the information I need.

GMC – Debra Dixon
I think this is like a unicorn craft book – all bright, sparkly and beautiful. It’s mythical in its printed form but I was lucky enough to score a hardback from my local romance store and boy do I love this book. The authors tone is enjoyable and her information so darn easy to understand.

The Emotion Thesaurus – Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

I’m going to add here that ALL the thesauri are incredibly insightful and useful for writers of any genre. Also the websites; & are brilliant and I’ve often found myself losing hours just reading all the craft blogs and traipsing through the wonderful information contained on both of these sites. The emotion thesaurus though has REALLY added depth to my characters. It has improved my showing through visceral reactions, and I find myself now studying other people, matching their reactions to those outlined under the emotions in the books (yes I probably look weird; but I also hear voices in my head so really what hope is there!)

Romancing the Beat – Gwen Hayes
This is short, sweet and simple. I love the breakdown of beats for a romance novel. I mainly write category length, so I found this breakdown particularly useful for that. She also has some great follow up information on her website including a free scrivener template that has the beats laid out so you can just open and get writing. Her sense of humour had me chuckling whilst I soaked up her information like a sponge. I also found myself creating a playlist from her suggestions – though I will admit I can’t listen to it whilst I write.

These are my top three and they have all helped add structure and depth to my stories J Particularly GMC – the first few manuscripts I wrote I have now revisited – realising there was an underlying story but not enough strong conflict to sustain reader interest. My characters were flat and boring without obvious goals and motivations. Now I have a better understanding of GMC I really feel my stories have improved dramatically. It’s been a lifesaver!

If anyone is keen on some further reading on GMC, please let me recommend these excellent Blogs:

I love to love... romance craft books
I love to laugh... at my terribly messy desk
I love to learn... what other’s turning points were for their writing

How about you? Do you have any favourite writing craft books you simply cannot live without?


  1. Ooh, I love a good graft book too! I'm currently reading two at the moment: Verbalize by Damon Suede and The Secret of Story by Matt Bird. Both very good. I read Chuck Wendig's Damn Fine Story recently and really liked it. My favourite has always been Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver but I think these newer ones might sing to be more now. I also really enjoy James Scott Bell's books, especially his How To Write Pulp Fiction. Agree TOTALLY about the Emotion Thesaurus. That book is a marvel. Great post!

    1. Aaaand now I have more to add to my list. Thank you! :D

  2. That should be CRAFT not GRAFT. Gawd...

  3. I'm the same! Always snapping a new one up. Love your Top 3. I've just bought How To Write A Romance by the Avon Editors. Surely they've got good advice! But, sigh, I can see me looking up every new book everyone suggests.

    1. And another to add to my list to check out - this post is going to get expensive for me LOL :D

  4. OMG! I am a huge craft book collector too! I have 2 of your favourites, the Debra Dixon one and the Emotion Thesaurus (2nd edition), plus a whole shelf-full more. One of my go-to books when I'm having a problem with my wip is Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. Love his stuff! Another one I frequently reference before beginning a new story is The Complete Writers Guide to Heroes and Heroines by Cowden, LeFever and Viders. It describes the main character archetypes.

  5. So many craft books to choose from. One of my faves is not about how to write the words but how to write through life - Adulting 101 - writing through life and other adversities.

  6. So many craft books. And I have a fair number too. The Thesaurus series are favourites but I've just discovered Story Genius by Lisa Cron and wow! It's different to other craft books but it's this difference which pushes it to number one spot in my list of best craft books. Everything she says makes total sense and makes you not simply a writer but a storyteller. And that's what we all strive to be.


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