Tag Archives: writing books i should buy

The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 29: Discussing “The Emotion Thesaurus” by Angela Ackerman & Bella Puglisi )

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Remember that one time your character “narrowed his eyes,” or “shuffled his feet,” or “rolled his eyes” when something demanded him to offer an emotional response? Remember when he did it again? And again? And so on?

Don’t you wish you were astute enough to mention how your character’s response to boredom was not to “tap his fingers against the desk” but to “pick at his bowl of Cheetos because it gives him something to do”?

Then welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf because today you’re in luck. Our focus book this week is The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Bella Puglisi (even though the example I gave you is actually from their companion e-book, Emotion Amplifiers). Its purpose is to help you create moments in fiction that express character emotion rather than talk about it, giving you a wide berth for creating compelling action. It also helps you to figure out what types of characters you have when you explore the many options they may have for responding to stimuli, all the while helping you to break the habit of relying on the same three expressions over and over and over. It’s pretty revolutionary.

Check out my video discussing it for more information.

Or save yourself a half an hour and just buy the book now because you’re gonna want this one. Details below.

Note: This article refers to the book’s Second Edition (with 130 definitions as opposed to the original 75).

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression

by Angela Ackerman & Bella Puglisi

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 302 pages

·  ISBN-10: 0999296345

·  ISBN-13: 978-0999296349

·  Publisher: JADD Publishing; 2nd ed. edition (February 14, 2019)

If you also want to get the companion e-book, here’s that information:

Emotion Amplifiers

by Angela Ackerman & Bella Puglisi

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Print length : 65 pages

·  ASIN : B00QMLW34M

·  Publisher : JADD Publishing (December 4, 2014)

Additional Note: Buying direct from their website gives you access to a PDF version if you’d rather keep the formatting intact.

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

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The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 28: Discussing “Writer’s Guide to Character Traits” by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D. )

Title Image for The Writer’s Bookshelf Episode 28

Writing fiction and memoir is hard, and writing compelling characters is much of what makes it hard. We often dive into a manuscript or outline with a basic understanding of what makes our characters tick, but often that understanding turns out even shallower than what we’d previously thought. This can lead not only to frustration but a belief that the manuscript will never live up to its potential. After all, if we can’t understand our characters well, or what makes them believable, then how can we trust our false effort to pass them off to our readers as believable?

Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. This week’s book, Writer’s Guide to Character Traits, Second Edition by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D., helps us through this issue by providing us with a bank of character traits for any and most occasions, using psychological profiles for certain character types and breaking down the many traits that accompany that profile. And you know it’s useful because the titled credential in the author’s name proves that she knows what she’s talking about.

This book is a mix of narrative and definitions, text and charts. It’s also quite long, but very resourceful for anyone who takes their character development seriously. It even, on occasion, gives tips on how the writer can handle moments of crisis or change. It’s definitely an essential reference for anyone who wants a believable and empathetic character.

Check out my video on the topic to find out more about it.

Writer’s Guide to Character Traits, Second Edition

by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D.

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 384 pages

·  ISBN-10: 1582973903

·  ISBN-13: 978-1582973906

·  Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books; Second edition (August 9, 2006)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

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The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 27: Discussing “Bullies, Bastards & Bitches” by Jessica Page Morrell )

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Remember that one time you were bullied in school and thought, “One day, Billy Bob, I will have my revenge. In fiction!”? And remember when you sat down to write that revenge story and realized you know nothing about Billy Bob but for his bad breath and powerful hand on the back of your head as your face went into the toilet bowl, wondering if maybe his bullying wasn’t even his fault (even though he was totally acting on self-will)? Did you suddenly think that writing him as a one-note monster might’ve done him a literary injustice, even though he probably deserved all injustices heaped upon him?

Is it possible that, in your tale of epic revenge, you actually wanted to get his character right because getting him wrong would make you look like the bully?

Then welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. This week’s book, Bullies, Bastards & Bitches by Jessica Page Morrell, is right up your alley. And before you ask, yes, that is the title, and you probably do want to get a special cover for it if you choose to read it in public, if you’re so inclined.

Do you think your villain is too mua-ha-ha and you want to motivate him more realistically? Then this book is right for you. Is your antihero too good to be considered dangerous or “anti” anything, and you’re afraid of Superman’s ego taking over? Then this book is right for you. Is your femme fatale a little dainty and nice and in need of some mud on her face? Well, read on, friend. This book is also right for you.

Heck, if you just want to write a compelling character who lives left of gray and don’t want to mess it up, then this book is right for you. Check out my video on the topic to find out more.

And the story above is an example, not a memory. Hopefully it’s not a memory for you, either.

Bullies, Bastards & Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction

by Jessica Page Morrell

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 304 pages

·  ISBN-10: 9781582974842

·  ISBN-13: 978-1582974842

·  Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books; 58736th edition (July 28, 2008)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

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The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources ( Episode 26: Discussing “The Compass of Character” by David Corbett)

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Aloha, hola, and hello. If you’ve stumbled onto my corner of the Internet, then welcome. Please take a look around. Consider hanging out for a while. Maybe leave a comment or two. And while you’re here, take a look at the book I’m writing about today.

Welcome to The Writer’s Bookshelf.

This week, we’re continuing our discussion about characters and the things that make them worth rooting for, this time with a more central focus on a particular character need: motivation. Our book this week, The Compass of Character, is a challenging one, but if you can digest its wisdom into bite-sized pieces, then you’ll walk away with a clarity you might not have had before. Clarity about what?

You may finally figure out what the heck your characters actually want.

Yes, it’s a much harder subject to crack than it sounds on paper. It’s still one of my weaknesses. But I’m the guy who stares at a restaurant menu for fifteen minutes, trying to decide between a plain chicken sandwich and a spicy one. It’s always about the details, right? So, this book is necessary for anyone who believes a good character motivation is to “succeed” or “not die” or “pay his taxes on time.” And this video will discuss it in greater detail if that sounds like the very mystery you need to crack today.

The Compass of Character: Creating Complex Motivation for Compelling Characters in Fiction, Film, and TV

by David Corbett

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 288 pages

·  ISBN-10: 1440300860

·  ISBN-13: 978-1440300868

·  Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books (November 19, 2019)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

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The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 25: Discussing “Creating Characters” by Writer’s Digest)

Title Image for The Writer’s Bookshelf Episode 25

Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. If you have no idea what this series is about, then you’re in luck. Today marks our 25th episode, which means you now have 25 opportunities to catch up. Congratulations! (I realize that still doesn’t explain what this series is, but discovery through investigating the archives is half the fun, with the other half being that I outright tell you the answer. But discovery is the weightier half of fun.)

Anyway, this week, we’re discussing character creation at its most fundamental, through the wisdom of a book written by not one, not two, not three, but a bunch of authors, in the form of essays and chapter excerpts from other books, compiled into a single digest of useful information from the masters of writing digests, the editors of Writer’s Digest Books. That book? It’s called Creating Characters. And it’s about what it says.

So, yeah, this one is a can’t-miss. Or, I guess you have free will, so this is one that you shouldn’t miss.

Seriously, check it out. I did. In fact, I checked it out specifically for this series, which hopefully you’ve figured out by now if you’re new to the show.

But again, it’s about creating characters, as the title suggests. And it leaves nothing out. Or, at least nothing you’ll miss.

Okay, the stats follow. Enjoy. And, don’t forget that there’s a video attached. You should watch it.

Creating Characters: The Complete Guide to Populating Your Fiction

From the Editors of Writer’s Digest

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 352 pages

·  ISBN-10: 1599638762

·  ISBN-13: 978-1599638768

·  Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books (November 1, 2014)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here. Don’t forget to like, subscribe, comment, and do all of the things that convince me you like this kind of information and want more like it.

The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 24: Discussing “A Writer’s Guide to Characterization” by Victoria Lynn Schmidt)

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Did you check out last week’s 45 Master Characters and decided it just wasn’t enough information? You needed more power? Then this week, I’ve got great news.

Victoria Lynn Schmidt’s other book on character creation, A Writer’s Guide to Characterization, is this week’s subject of The Writer’s Bookshelf, and it’s one you should check out if you want to build your story around archetypal characters while figuring out how to place them. Who should be the protagonist? Who makes for a better side character? Should those two people really be lovers? This book will tell you if they’ll have a happily ever after or a battle of the flying frying pans.

It also talks about animal archetypes, you know, for completion’s sake.

Check out the video, then check out the book, then put it all to good use.

A Writer’s Guide to Characterization: Archetypes, Heroic Journeys, and Other Elements of Dynamic Character Development

by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

Amazon Author Central Page

Note: Author’s website seems unavailable.

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 224 pages

·  ISBN-10: 1599635577

·  ISBN-13: 978-1599635576

·  Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books; 8.1.2012 edition (August 27, 2012)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

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The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 23: Discussing “45 Master Characters” by Victoria Lynn Schmidt)

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Have you ever dreamed up a character that seemed flat on the page? What about an ensemble of talking heads that seemed to talk to no one and everyone without a purpose or identity? Have you ever built a villain that looked too much like a hero (and vice versa)? Then maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Welcome to The Writer’s Bookshelf. This week, we focus on Victoria Lynn Schmidt’s answer to the Hero’s Journey by focusing on the mythic characters that populate it. 45 Master Characters is your new go-to for plotting when you want your characters to tell the story rather than set the dressing. Or something like that.

If you ever wanted to ensure your characters are varied yet compatible, then this is the book to read. Find out why in this week’s video.

45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters

by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

Amazon Author Central Page

Note: Author’s website seems unavailable.

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 288 pages

·  ISBN-10: 1599635348

·  ISBN-13: 978-1599635347

·  Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books; 2nd edition (January 1, 2012)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

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The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 22: Discussing “This Is Not a Writing Manual” by Kerri Majors)

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Aw, you came back! Excellent. Welcome to The Writer’s Bookshelf. Again!

This week’s book takes us into the mind of an author who wants to tell us about the writing life like it is. This is the reality check for anyone who dreams of writing for a living. Is it glamorous? Maybe. Is it profitable? Maybe! Is it rewarding on any level, intellectual or otherwise? Pending. Is it for those who think they can cut it without learning a thing? There’s only one way to find out.

This book of essays addresses some of these topics (and many others) while helping the aspiring author decide whether writing is a business he or she should aspire to (and why). In the tradition of Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Kerri Majors’s message to new writers in This Is Not a Writing Manual is simple: Learn what you’re getting yourself into before you jump in. Then jump in.

And why wait? Check it out now, if you’d like. Here’s the video that hypes it up! And here are the other vitals:

This Is Not a Writing Manual: Notes for the Young Writer in the Real World

by Kerri Majors

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 208 pages

·  ISBN-10: 9781599636887

·  ISBN-13: 978-1599636887

·  Publisher: Kerri Majors (July 9, 2013)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

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The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 21: Discussing “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield)

Title Image for The Writer’s Bookshelf Episode 21

Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. It’s time for a new season of goodness with a new crop of even more written goodness. In this case, I’m referring to written goodness of the referential kind, and by referential goodness, I mean good things you can refer to if you want to improve your writing skills. And by improve your writing skills, what I really mean is…

Okay, after twenty episodes, you know how this works.

This season, we’ll be focusing primarily on the craft of writing. This means we’ll cover topics like characterization, settings, conflicts, and more.

But not today!

No, today’s book is basically a cult book for writers. It’s a book about productivity in a time when none of us wants to commit to our art. True, we all say that we want to create art (like writing novels, for example). And we might even believe it! But most of us say that as we slay a dragon on that videogame we’re playing or as we post yet another article on Facebook, trying to prove once and for all that we’re right about whatever it is we think we’re right about. Today’s book attempts to slay that dragon, the one called “resistance,” the thing that stops us from actually writing.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield gets to the heart of our resistance against creating art (even when we say we’re artists!) and spurs us on to get back to work. It’s like a 12-step for writers in written form. Or maybe a cult. You decide.

For more information, check out this week’s latest video.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

by Steven Pressfield

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 190 pages

·  ISBN-10: 1936891026

·  ISBN-13: 978-1936891023

·  Publisher: Black Irish Entertainment LLC; 47716th edition (January 11, 2012)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

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The Writer’s Bookshelf, Season One: Recommended Reading Order

“The Writer’s Bookshelf: Season One Recap” Title Screen

Hi, and welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. If you’ve been keeping up with this series for the last six months, then you’ll know that we’ve covered 20 books about improving your writing and storytelling game. But depending on your skill level and writing style, maybe the order was a bit lumpy for you.

If that’s the case, then here’s my recommended reading order for maximum educational experience, depending on your writing approach.

For Beginners:

1. On Writing, Stephen King

2. Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott

3. Just Write, James Scott Bell

4. The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler

5. How Not to Write a Novel, Mittlemark & Newman

6. The Elements of Style, Strunk & White

7. Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss (optional)

For Planners (Outliners):

8. Story Engineering, Larry Brooks

9. Story Physics, Larry Brooks

For Pantsers (Organics):

8. Story Trumps Structure, Steven James

9. Story Physics, Larry Brooks

For Hybrids (Little bit of both):

8-9. Larry Brooks’s Books (as shown above)

10. Story Trumps Structure, Steven James

For Intermediates:

11. Hooked, Les Edgerton

12. Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, Jessica Brody

13. Snowflake Books, Randy Ingermansen

For Advanced:

14. Great Stories Don’t Write Themselves, Larry Brooks

15. Story Genius, Lisa Cron

16. Story, Robert McKee

For Editing & Revision:

17. Story Fix, Larry Brooks (Intermediate Class)

18. The Story Grid, Shawn Coyne (Master Class)

For Cleanup and Finalization:

19. The Best Punctuation Book, Period, June Casagrande

20. Author in Progress, Writer Unboxed

Please note that this list is based entirely on my Season One recommendations. Season Two, which begins April 16th, will present to you a new reading list with an even deeper dive into the craft of writing by focusing on the nuances of story development, beginning with mindset and continuing into character, conflict, and scene creation.

So, make sure you come back as we begin a new mega-multi-week journey into The Writer’s Bookshelf.

Don’t forget to like, subscribe, comment, and do all of the things that convince me you like this kind of information and want more like it. You can also check out the video edition of this recap below.

The Writer’s Bookshelf Recap Episode on YouTube