Favorite Books

I like craft books that tell me HOW to do things without much fluff.  To that end, here are my favorite craft books, organized by topic:

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Sizzling Story Outlines by H. R. D’Costa.
This book doesn’t make an appearance in the Plot post because it came out after I wrote that.  But it’s probably better this way, because I would have quoted it A LOT.  There’s very little fluff.  It’s all practical, how-to goodness.

D’Costa uses 3-Act Structure, and she starts you out by showing you how to turn your inspiration into a one-line synopsis.  Then she shows you how to derive your First Plot Point/Break Into Act 2 from the one-liner.  From there, she walks you through the Inciting Incident, the Midpoint, the Break into Act 3 (or the Trough of Hell, as she calls it), and the Climax and Resolution.

This book is great on its own, but it’s even better if you supplement it with D’Costa’s Story Structure Essentials series, which dive deeper into each of the major plot points (and stakes):

Inside Story by Dara Marks
This book leans more toward the character arc aspect of theme.  She takes you through determining your subject to developing your thematic point of view, to showing you how the external plot parallel’s the character’s internal journey.  And that’s just Part 1.

The Moral Premise by Stanley D. Williams
This book lays out an 8-step process for incorporating a “true Moral Premise” into your story.  And it’s probably the clearest process I’ve read so far.


  • concept
  • scenes
  • voice
  • character
  • revision