My name is Lyss, and I’m addicted to writing craft books.
I’ve been consuming books about writing since I was a kid going with my mom to the public library. To this day, I still regularly visit the 808 shelf to grab the latest releases—you know, whenever I’m not scouring digital shelves for them.
While it can be all too easy to get lost in reading about writing without actually writing, that doesn’t discount how helpful craft books can be to those, well, perfecting their craft.
Below are some of my favorite books on the craft of fiction writing. Coupled with lots and lots of practice, I have these books to thank for helping me to wrap my mind around the nebulous concept that is story.
Story by Robert McKee
Subtitle: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting
This is by no means an easy read, but it is a comprehensive text on story structure and was invaluable to me as I was attempting to understand the intricacies of how a story works.
I found what McKee has to say about turning points particularly useful.
The Anatomy of Story by John Truby
Subtitle: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller
Like Story, this book is a comprehensive text on story structure, but I found it a little easier to comprehend. I had a lot of “aha” moments while reading.
The sections I found most helpful are the ones on allies and revelations.
Creating Character Arcs by K.M. Weiland
Subtitle: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development
This is a great book for understanding the changes a main character should go through as a story progresses.
Before reading this, I thought of plot and character as separate concepts. Weiland has many good craft books published, but this one was most instrumental for me since it alerted me to the fact that I needed to focus on my main characters’ emotional journeys.
Rock Your Plot by Cathy Yardley
Subtitle: A Simple System for Plotting Your Novel
As far as books on story structure go, this one is a breath of fresh air. I learned a lot from heavy texts like Truby’s and McKee’s, but this book was much easier to digest and helped me to understand the key scenes which make up a story.
I recommend it to anyone struggling to understand the three-act structure—a subject which had confounded me for years before.
Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes
Subtitle: Story Structure for Romance Novels
If you’re looking for a book on writing romance, this is a pretty good one. It deals entirely with story beats (actions and emotional shifts) which compose the romance part of a romance book’s plot (that is, it doesn’t deal with the external plot).
I found this guide confusing and had to read it twice to really get it, but it’s useful in understanding the emotional trajectory of a romance story.
Perfect English Grammar by Grant Barrett
Subtitle: The Indispensable Guide to Excellent Writing and Speaking
I think every writer struggles with at least some aspects of grammar and punctuation. This comprehensive yet easy-to-understand book can help with that.
Personally, I found the punctuation sections especially helpful as I used to have trouble with commas, semicolons, and dashes.
GET IT: Amazon (Kindle Unlimited)
What are your favorite books on the craft of writing? Let me know in a comment below.
Looking for a book tailored specifically to M/M romance writers?
Check out my short guide M/M Romance Tropes: What They Are and How to Use Them to Plan, Plot, and Market Your Book.
Inside you’ll find the names, definitions, and examples of 60+ M/M romance tropes as well as information on how to use those tropes for inspiration, character planning, plotting, and marketing.
GET IT: Universal Link