When I started writing, I was a pantser before knowing that word existed. I wrote what came to mind. But later I learned about structure and character arcs, and had to revise the book. In the end, I had to shelve it. When it came time to write a second book, which would become my debut, ONE TOUGH COOKIE, I became a plotter. But it turned out, I still had a lot to learn and lots of rewriting to do. Now, as I head into writing a new book, I feel like I’ve finally figured out how to streamline my process, so I wanted to share my top writing resources.
I found this book after I realized I needed to rethink the structure for ONE TOUGH COOKIE. I had no idea how to go about it. This book helped me get to the core of my story and my protagonist. And while I was reading it, all I could think of was, “I should have done this from the start.”
Story Genius helps you grow your story and figure out the why of it all. First, you work on the backstory and the protagonist’s misbelief. Once you have that, you can come up with the plot that will force the protagonist to change.
Though Lisa Cron doesn’t believe in outlining, I find it practical to have a structure. Jennie Nash used Lisa Cron’s teachings to create a simple outline authors can use to figure out the plot while keeping in mind the core of the story. You list what happens in each scene and what’s the point of that scene. This helps narrow down the most important moments of the plot and why they matter. Then each plot point needs to lead to another with a, “because of that,” so that there’s a chain of cause and effect. This prevents you from wandering off into scenes that don’t matter and keeps you on track.
Jennie recommends doing this before you start writing and then add to it as you write each scene. I used it as a way to help me cut scenes when I needed to reduce my word count. It helped me see how I had two scenes with the same point or scenes that didn’t add anything. It’s a really great method to see your story at a glance.
Helping Writers Become Authors
K.M. Weiland shares a lot of tips for writers on her website. She offers four series that I think are must for all writers: Novel Outlining, Story Structure, Character Arcs, and Scene Structure. I used the last three when revising my first book, and now I’ve incorporated them into my work flow. Though the Inside Outline is a great way to start, I need something much more detailed, so I use her story structure and character arc methods to go even deeper into the story. The scene structure method is also a must for me. It keeps me focused on the goal of the scene and on adding conflict to make it more exciting and tense.
Check out K.M. Weiland’s store if you want these as books instead of as a web series.
The Emotion Thesaurus
I bought this book when I first started writing. There’s so much discussion about show and tell, and how you need to show emotion, and not just mention a character is sad or angry. The Emotion Thesaurus lists dozens of emotions with their corresponding gestures, actions, and internal sensations that you can apply to your story to really show the reader how characters are feeling.
Once you have that first draft, it’s time to revise. But how do you do that? The Intuitive Editing book goes over the editing process step by step, highlighting the elements of a story and what to look out for. Having a streamlined process like this has really made editing much easier.
I hope you find these resources as helpful as I have. For additional resources and writing tips, check out my collection for writers.
What are your top writing resources? Share in the comments below.