Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Since at the moment I'm in the midst of a plotting frenzy, now is a good time to be dipping into the craft books I have on my shelf, as well as looking into new ones. This week I've purchased three, two online (which still need to be delivered) and one from the bookstore at the mall that I'm reading now.

How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries, by Kathy Lynn Emerson. Doesn't this one sound neat? I like to include a little danger/mystery/suspense in my historical novels, but I've never written a true historical whodunit. I had a flicker of an idea for an historical series of mysteries, so I'm going to jot down a few ideas and see what transpires.

Getting Into Character; Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors, by Brandilyn Collins. I got this one for a couple reasons. Number one is that Brandilyn Collins is a fantasic person and great writer with characters I enjoy reading about and really care about. Number two reason is that I'm feeling the need to deepen my characters, to make them relatable and interesting.

This is the book I purchased today. I've worked hard on beginnings, worked hard on middles, but I want to really begin working hard on my endings. Happily Ever After is the promise you make to your romance reader, and I want to make sure mine deliver on the promise. I have a tendency to rush my endings instead of giving an emotionally satisfactory tie-up of all loose ends finale. I'm hopeful this book can help me gain some insight into how to wrap up a novel in a satisfying way.
I've already come across one unexpected gem I wanted to share with you that has nothing to do with story structure and everything to do with characterization.
From Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress. 'A good check on the degree of individuality your character shows in your opening is the question, "Would nine out of ten people behave and think like this?" If the answer is "yes," you may not have conveyed enough of who your character actually is. She shouldn't be nine out of ten people; she should be herself.'
Isn't that great?

How about you? Do you have a craft book you particularly like? Anything you're currently working on to improve your craft? Any new technique you've learned or gem you've come across?


  1. The last craft book I bought about a month ago "Draw Your own Celtic Designs" by David James. Takes some of the traditional Celtic knotwork and spiral patterns and breaks them down into easy to follow steps.

  2. My all-time favorite is Write Away by Elizabeth George. She has one of the best chapters on dialogue that I've read. You know, it's easy to think "Hey I've learned all this before" but I think sometimes authors deliver it in a different way that connects.

  3. I just went through Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. It's more about overall things you can do to sharpen characterization (goes along with your Nancy Kress quote) and increase the stakes. I've learned a lot this time through. Previously, I had read the book, but not done the workbook.