When I started the journey to writing my first fiction book I wanted to know how to do it. Years of writing and blogging had given me the practice I need to start, but I need something more. I wanted to know how to structure a book, which is something a lot of new authors have a problem figuring out. I found two invaluable resources that took my writing in the right direction. If you are going to start anywhere, I recommend these two down to earth books that collectively cover some of the common concepts in writing. Although the second book says in the title that it is for writing non-fiction, I feel like many of the do’s and don’ts can be applied to fiction as well. Through these books you will learn about plot points, point of view, creating a story concept, style, character development, pacing, and common mistakes that writers make.
The first book I would recommend is “Story Engineering” by Larry Brooks. Does Larry like Top Gun a little too much? Yes, yes he does. However this does not detract from the fact that his book is easy to understand and simple to use. I read through it and took extensive notes on the 6 core competencies because writing things down helps me to remember them. If you aren’t sure when or how your characters should do what, this book is for you. If you don’t know how to shape your character arc, this book is for you. If you don’t know when your inciting incident should happen or what the difference is between concept and idea, this book is for you. If you don’t know what any of those words mean that I just used, this book is definitely for you. Don’t worry, Larry explains things in such a simple way that anyone could understand and use this book.
If you want to be a good writer in general, whether you write non-fiction or not, “On Writing Well,” is invaluable. One of my favorite things about this book is how William Zinsser encourages the writer to figure when they should break the rules according to their own style. He also teaches the reader how to establish their individual style, which is invaluable to any author. It is very likely that even if you never want to write a book, you will enjoy reading “On Writing Well.” That is just how clever and entertaining Zinsser is. There is a reason this book is in the top 20 in the Kindle store under “Authorship” and “Writing Skills” today.
I am a firm believer that you can learn new things at any age, and at the age of 30 I sat down to write my first book, which was non-fiction. I’m still figuring out marketing, but so far my book has been downloaded several thousand times. If I can do it, so can you.