Hi, this is Deb from Writing Smarter Radio. I’m so glad you decided to join me today. Thank you so much. Today we’re going to talk about writing books. I love writing books. I’m so excited about this topic, I have probably over 150 way more than I need. But it’s one of those things that I just love to read about.
I love talking about craft, I love reading about craft. And looking at it from all different ways. I picked out a handful of books, to share the ones that I think will have the biggest impact on you and will help you. I’ve read so many. And each book, I always get a nugget or two of information out, especially if it’s a book that’s specialized. Say I’m going to learn about themes or I want to dig deeper into characterization. I love books like that. I love books on structure. I like to look at things in new ways. I like to get new ideas. But every once in a while you have one of those moments where it goes. Yes, you click you know you get it. Something just works for you. And it’s like a light bulb goes off, you get so excited because suddenly, it seems so much easier than you’re making it out to be in your head. So I’m really excited to share some of that stuff with you today. So stick around and let’s get started.
One of my all time favorite writing books for authors, is called the Anatomy of Story by John Truby. (T-R-U-B-Y) I mispronounce any of the names, but I’ll spell them to make it easier for you to find a couple of key points that were in the book that I loved is you need to make sure you have your hero both a moral need as well as a psychological one. Having multiple things create depth in your character is just like having an internal goal and an external goal, the same thing, your character should have a physical one, something they have to go after.
But there should be something inside of them as well as this helps with the growth. Another thing with the Anatomy of Story is it mentioned about the how you increase the scope of your character over time. And how things get a little tougher a little stronger, you go through an organic process through the journey. And what it does is it takes your audience, step by step building up the character and the journey and the struggle in the right process. So this is actually a 22 step process. And the book breaks down each step and talks about each step and why each is important and why they should be in different orders.
I personally found this to be a very strong book for structure. And I was at a point where I was really digging into structure deeper. I’d been writing for a while but something was just missing for me and I needed a little more. Another book that’s very similar to it and is based off of this in a maybe easier to understand format, if you like things broken down very simply is Take off your Pants by Libby Hawker (H-A-W-K-E-R). It’s a very similar book. And she was influenced by John Truby as well, and it mentions it in her book. So it’s not like it’s some big surprise. And it’s hard not to be influenced by it. I think Anatomy of Story is one of my absolute favorite writing books. It’s so good should be on every author shelf. Anyway, in Take off your Pants, she likes to mention that your character should be flawed in a serious, big scary way, potentially life racking way. If the flaw is so little, that it’s like, okay, I fixed it. The story’s over. We need something big and bold and beautiful that we can really dig into as writers, it really draws out good emotion and helps your character grow through the story. So there’s two books based on the one actually, but it really depends on your reading style. If you like to dig into every fine detail, go with the first if you like a broken down Simple English version that makes it super fast and easy to understand. Go with Take off your Pants.
Another book that I generally like to recommend to newer writers is called GMC, Goal, Motivation and Conflict. And this is written by Deborah Dixon (D-I-X-O-N). This book is really great because it helps you understand that your book needs a goal. There needs to be motivation and conflict. Your character needs that goal, motivation and conflict. every chapter needs a goal motivation and conflict every scene because they build on each other and that’s how you keep it going. And what happens is people make decisions under distress. And when they’re under pressure, how they react is who they are. Think about it, you can have two people go to a restaurant and maybe the wrong order comes out to them. They ordered a hamburger and asked for to be cooked. I don’t know, well done, but it comes out and it’s rare, you’re going to have one person who’s going to flip out? Who’s going to be a little angry about it, and it’s going to make a big scene, maybe? Who knows? And then you’re gonna have another one be like, oh, excuse me, could you just cook this a little bit longer? I don’t think they got this quite right. how people react when something goes wrong shows so much about them. And some of these decisions. They lead to different scenarios, whether it’s funny or difficult or hard. And that’s a really great book that delves into doing this in a way where you look at each scene, each chapter, each character, and GMC becomes a piece of how you write your story. So that’s GMC, Goal, Motivation and Conflict. And that’s by Deborah Dixon. Excellent book.
If you write romance, I have a book for you. But this author has a book for all writing, too. So I’m gonna include that other one a little bit later. But right now How to Write a Brilliant Romance, Susan May Warren, she has a really good way of breaking down and explaining things that make them click for me. For example, in her book, she speaks about her whatever your hero’s need is, or what the noble cause it needs to be strong enough for us to appreciate and absolutely love this hero. Because when they screw up, we need to be willing to forgive them as well. So it all blends in together. I’m going to mention another one of her books in a few minutes. And I highly recommend reading her.
She doesn’t get listed as often when authors mentioned Oh, what book did you love? I found her by accident. And I’m so glad I did. Because once I read one of her books, I read all of her writing books. And then I joined a group of hers, because she is good. And she has a great way of explaining things. So I would highly encourage you to look up Susan, May Warren, W a, r r e n. Okay, I found the other one. It’s Advanced, Brilliant Writing by Susan May Warren, one of the points she makes is, how can the villain hurt the Hero, Hero or heroine the most? And how can they cause the heroines fear to come about because you need that conflict. Again, an excellent book, and anything you can read by her would be highly recommended. She’s got a really good way of breaking things down to make them easily understandable, but also to help you grow in your craft. So that’s another book worth looking at.
There’s a book called My Story can Beat up your Story. I love that title. Jeffrey Allen Schecter. I apologize if I say that wrong. It’s s ch, E. Ch t er. And one of the points I really loved in this book is he says, heroes ask questions. villains make arguments. Isn’t that brilliant? I love that. And you have a lot of those little aha moments in this book. So it’s definitely one worth looking at.
Another book, if you’re a romance writer, you absolutely want to get Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes. The way that she described stuff, so many people have aha moments. And I love those. For example, one of the things she said, you know, you always hear the black moment or the climax or the peak or whatever. She calls it, the sucker punch to the gut. You get that, you know, you’re like, Oh, I know what that would feel like now I get it. So when she discusses the different aspects and layers of the story and parts of the story, she does it in a way that makes it click. Like if you’re swooning, because you’ve just broken up while you’re wallowing in your sorrow and listening to sad songs. She explains it in a way that really is great if you are writing romance. If you’re not writing romance may not be for you. But excellent book definitely worth looking at.
When I first started writing, there was a book called Save the Cat. And it’s by Blake Snyder, and it was kind of net and more for screenwriters. It is such a great book. It talks about how stakes have to be high and we have to care about them. what might happen. I don’t know if it was maybe two years ago, three years ago, a year ago. Another version of that came out for a novelist by Jessica Brody Save the Cat Writes a Novel. It is the same type of scenario but written for the novelist. And one of the points in this book is that your hero’s problem has to be really big But it can’t just affect them in one way, their problem should be big enough that it affects them in their personal life, in their work life, in their relationships in their home life. That was a really important point. This is a book that people rave about. It’s an excellent book, like I said, it was taken, and it kind of twist the Save the Cat book and makes it specifically for novels, either book is excellent, either will do the job, they have really great input into why you do things a certain way that you do them.
There’s a book called The Secrets of Story by Matt Bird bi rd, one of the things he talks about is sympathy versus empathy. Sympathy is important, but empathy is bigger. And one of the points he makes is if you used to watch say, Sopranos, or you know, Don Draper or Walter White from breaking bad or madmen, we still have intense feelings for them. And we can empathize with what they’re going through, even though we don’t sympathize with them, because they’re doing something that’s not right. So that was a really good point of that book. There’s some really good stuff in so many of these books. And I don’t want to delve too deeply into just one book and and not uncover some others you might not have heard of, because it seems like a lot of times the same books get thrown around when you’re asking, oh, what’s your favorite book, or this or that. So I really wanted to pull a couple extras here for you.
If you’re a little further along in your journey, I would suggest maybe Story Genius by Lisa Cron, CR o n. And I believe she has a course on that on Creative Live maybe too. excellent book might be a little advanced for those just starting out. And I don’t mean advanced in a way that’s difficult. But sometimes it’s easier to get the basics down before you delve into so much psychology. But it’s an excellent book, if you’d like to dive into that, check it out.
Oh, I want to mention that Rayne Hall has a great series on all different aspects, whether you’re looking at your pacing, or villains or whatever, she has a way of making things accessible. And there’s not a lot of fluff and she digs in and you get a lot of great details out of there. I absolutely loved her writing about villains book. And pretty much any of her books that she’s written that I’ve read are fabulous. So that’s another person to look at and see if anything, you know, registers when you read the blurbs about them. I would say her vivid plots book is another one, it’s really good because it adds a layer of depth. And helps you understand about creating tension, tension and conflict are going to be the keys of your entire story. And she has a good way of explaining them. So that’s another one you may want to check out.
You’ll often hear the name Donald mass, or Mas, I don’t know if it’s Ma, as I believe Writing a Breakout Novel. One of the things he’s really big on mentioning is taking away your leaders or your main characters support system, who’s the person they rely on? Take that person away? What’s something that they can rely on, take that away, take away their crutches make it harder for them to do what they have to do? Make it tougher? How much time do they have to solve a problem? shorten it, you’ll love the book. It’s a little more in depth. It’s a little I wouldn’t say I would I would say that that’s probably not a beginner book. So I would start to get writing first. And then when you’re getting into craft go back in and go after that one. It’s an excellent book, but I’m not sure it’ll be my first book choice for a beginner.
And I absolutely can’t forget James Scott Bell. He has a series of books and they are excellent as well. He’s really good with story. One of his books Plot and Structure is probably one of the top books of his that I would recommend. One of the things he says to give you an idea is when you get a character or the problem of really big problem plotting is just a fancy name for how do you get them out of that predicament. And I like how he breaks it down like that to make it easier to understand.
Oh, and one last book I really should mention is Understanding Conflict by Janice Hardy. I really like her books. One of the things she says in this book is to make it harder for the protagonist to make decisions. Because choosing what to do has to have emotional consequences. Even though it might be the right choice for them. They don’t necessarily want to make that choice because it’s harder than doing the easy thing. And how often in your life do you do that you choose doing the easy thing, avoiding doing the hard thing. So that is Janice hardy h AR d y She has a good series of books that you might want to check out.
I think I’ve gone a little too long. Supposed to be a short one I get so excited talking about writing books. Anyway, I will jump into another topic next week. I really appreciate you joining me. I hope you enjoyed hearing about some of these books. I’ll go more in depth a little later next time. I just get excited wanted to make sure you had a good variety of them. This is Deb with Writing Smarter Radio. If you enjoyed this, please join us again next week and review us on iTunes. Thank you so much. Don’t forget to subscribe. Bye bye
Transcribed by https://otter.ai