But, I promised to give it a try. Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir is a great read. Part memoir and part advice for the writer, is reads as smoothly as you would expect a book from King to read. The memoir is captivating and you can see from his early years where some of his books came from.
But his comments on writing are as to the point and lean as his writing is. He addresses plot, character and dialog. And I found it very helpful when he pointed out specific writers who were adept at a particular aspect of the novel.
I can easily recommend it.
Donalss Maass put out an excellent book titled Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. This follows his two other "breakout" books: Writing the Breakout Novel, and The Breakout Novelist: How to craft Novels that Stand Out and Sell. Honestly, I didn't read the first two. But the workbook is a standalone. It gives you instruction on character development, plot development, and general story techniques. But, to me, its real strength is in the exercises he presents after each section. They are carefully thought out to emphasize the points he has just made. An excellent tutorial.
For your characters, Ann Hood's Creating Character Emotions is a tight, engaging book that will improve your characters. I like that she gives both good and bad examples of the points she is trying to make. And then, she gives you some exercises to work toward a specific objective. She takes each emotion and shows you how to incorporate it into your characters. Not the newest book on the subject, but possibly the best.
Lastly, it is impossible to go wrong reading Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey. Vogler based his book on the work of Joseph Campbell. If I put Hood's book on top for character, I put Vogler's book on top for plot construction. Now I know someone will say Vogler was aiming at script writers. Certainly he has an immense background in screenplays for all the major studios. But any writer can benefit from Vogler's approach. If you haven't read The Writer's Journey, get a copy and start on it today. You won't regret it.
James R. Callan
James R. Callan