Tag Archives: writing books i should buy

The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 36: Discussing “Crafting Dynamic Dialogue” by Writer’s Digest)

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Everyone knows that verbal communication is just as important as nonverbal communication when getting a message across. Telling someone to “Stop it!” carries the same emotional weight as shoving them away whenever they stick their finger in your ear. But is that response powerful enough to convince them to stop? Or do we need to escalate the tension with more character-affirming phrasing? “Do that again, and I’ll stick this up your nose!”

Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. Now that we’ve wrapped our sessions on location, location, location (which included a video on mapmaking software in case you missed my YouTube episode on “Mapmaking for Authors” last week), it’s time to move on to the all-important character and story development tool called dialogue.

This week, we cover another text compilation from the archives of Writer’s Digest Books, in a fun collection of chapters and essays called Crafting Dynamic Dialogue. If you struggle with putting words in your characters’ mouths, then this book will help you grab that clamp and shovel and drive those dialogues right where they belong.

Don’t forget to check out the video.

Crafting Dynamic Dialogue: The Complete Guide to Speaking, Conversing, Arguing, and Thinking in Fiction

From the Editors of Writer’s Digest

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 304 pages

·  ISBN-10: 1440345546

·  ISBN-13: 978-1440345548

·  Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books (June 23, 2016)

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.

Notes: This is the cherry on top for character creation and development. Like Creating Characters, much of the content is curated from other sources, including books and magazine articles by Writer’s Digest.

The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 35: Discussing “The 99% Invisible City” by Roman Mars & Kurt Kohlstedt)

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When was the last time you walked down the street, saw a manhole cover, and thought to yourself, “Hmm, that’s interesting”? My guess is never, but that’s not the case for the writers of this week’s book of focus.

Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf.

The cities around us are full of history, not just through events, but also by the unusual decisions that have marked them as sources of influence. For example, did you know that once upon a time, a city planner had to figure out how to hide an unsightly water pump from the unfortunate people who walked past it daily? His solution: build the empty shell of a fancy building around it. The people will never know! What about the history of The Can Opener Bridge? Did you know it can’t be fixed in any meaningful way? If you’ve ever wanted to know the true story of this hilarious urban monster (if trucks and buses are the victims), then you’ve got a place to find it.

And these are just two examples of the neat tidbits we learn in this week’s book of focus, The 99% Invisible City by Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt, based on their blog and podcast, 99% Invisible.

Why are we even talking about this book in a series devoted to writing craft? Well, for two reasons. First, we’re discussing how to craft settings, and I think this book is a great reminder for how settings have histories and that your settings have histories. But we’re also using it as an excuse to talk about researching your story elements and making sure that what you write is accurate and necessary. So, we’re pulling double-duty on this one.

Plus, it’s just a great book, and I’m all about discussing great books. It’s why I’m planning to launch a sister series about books worth reading sometime quite soon. But I digress.

You can get the book at the link below, and be sure to watch my discussion about it in this week’s video. And if you have the time, check out the 99% Invisible blog and podcast. There’s so much interesting stuff to read and hear about that even the book doesn’t have enough room to cover.

The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design

By Roman Mars & Kurt Kohlstedt

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Hardcover: 400 pages

·  ISBN-10: 0358126606

·  ISBN-13: 978-0358126607

·  Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Illustrated edition (October 6, 2020)

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

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Series Note: We’re taking another short break next week to talk about mapmaking and setting orientation for your stories. The Writer’s Bookshelf will return on August 13th.

The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 34: Discussing “The Rural and Urban Setting Thesauruses” by Angela Ackerman & Bella Puglisi)

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Writing about a bar in the back of an industrial plant? How about a restaurant sitting on a pier over the Atlantic Ocean (around here, we call that Benny’s on the Beach)? What about that barn you think you slept in the night you passed out in Missouri (we don’t need to know why you passed out)? You know what they look like? Can you recall the smells?

Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf.

Continuing our theme about settings, this week we focus on yet another thesaurus pairing by the stellar authorial team of Angela Ackerman and Bella Puglisi, this time about rural and urban settings. Combined, the thesauruses, The Rural Setting Thesaurus and The Urban Setting Thesaurus, cover over 200 locations that you can study and adapt for authenticity in your writing. Pair them with other thesauruses we’ve covered in this series, and you can have a believable situation where your rabbi and priest protagonists walk into a bar and, well, the rest is up to you. But now you can tell a version of the story that we can believe because you’ll have the right tools to tell it.

Get the books at the links below, and don’t forget to check out our full discussion in this week’s video.

The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces

by Angela Ackerman & Bella Puglisi

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 259 pages

·  ISBN-10: 0989772551

·  ISBN-13: 978-0989772556

·  Publisher: JADD Publishing (May 22, 2016)

The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to City Spaces

by Angela Ackerman & Bella Puglisi

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 304 pages

·  ISBN-10: 098977256X

·  ISBN-13: 978-0989772563

·  Publisher: JADD Publishing (May 22, 2016)

Note: These books and other thesauruses by Angela Ackerman and Bella Puglisi contain entries that can also be checked online via their database of definitions at One Stop for Writers. This service not only contains the same entries that you can find within these books, but they have additional categories exclusive to the service (like weather and color thesauruses), as well as a character creator that allows you to integrate traits, emotional wounds, etc. directly into character creation. If you’re an industrious writer who likes to know his or her character before writing about him, then check it out.

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 33: Discussing “A Writer’s Guide to Active Setting” by Mary Buckham )

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Developing characters for your stories is an important part of the storytelling process. And most authors will devote plenty of time to this task. After all, the character is the one who makes the plot unique. Die Hard, for example, already comes prepackaged with an interesting concept (based on the thriller series that begins with The Detective by Roderick Thorp). But it’s made more interesting by its hero, John McClane, a flawed and sarcastic police officer who’s caught stopping a terrorist-driven tower heist in a district he doesn’t even work for!

Sounds good on the surface. But here’s the twist! The novel it’s based on, Nothing Lasts Forever, doesn’t feature John McClane. It features a character named Joe Leland, who’s introduced in The Detective. When he (and The Detective) was adapted to film, Leland was originally played by Frank Sinatra! And when Hollywood bought the rights for Die Hard, their idea was to bring Frank Sinatra back to reprise his role. But, as the Hollywood story goes, Sinatra turned it down, and so, to salvage what they had, Die Hard’s producers rebranded the story with a new character and series.

Think about that for a moment. How different would Die Hard have been if it had remained within its original series and original star?

Now, while you’re thinking about that, and thinking about how that likely would’ve eliminated the horror story that is A Good Day to Die Hard, consider how the story might change if the events didn’t take place in a tower. After all, even if the character changed from book to screen, the tower didn’t. The book, as does the movie, focuses on terrorists in a tower. But, what if it didn’t? What if it took place on a boat? Die Hard on a Boat (or Under Siege)! How about a bus? Die Hard on a Bus (or Speed)! What about at an airport? Well, that’s just Die Hard 2: Die Harder. But the point is, the setting can affect the story just as much as a character can. If you let it.

Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. This week, we’re done with characters. Instead, we’re discussing settings and how to make them part of the story in a way that doesn’t throw them away as nonessential. Our book, A Writer’s Guide to Active Setting by Mary Buckham, helps you navigate the murky waters of relevant scene-setting by walking you through a process of developing places that matter to your story. It’s a must-read!

Get the book at the link below, and check out my discussion video to find out more about it and why I recommend it.

And if you haven’t seen Die Hard for some reason, go get it now!

A Writer’s Guide to Active Setting: How to Enhance Your Fiction with More Descriptive, Dynamic Settings

by Mary Buckham

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 256 pages

·  ISBN-10: 1599639300

·  ISBN-13: 978-1599639307

·  Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books; Revised edition (January 1, 2016)

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 32: Discussing “The Occupation Thesaurus” by Angela Ackerman & Bella Puglisi )

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Do you like your job? Does your character like his job? Does your character know his job well? Do you know your character’s job well?

Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. This week, we’re all about talking jobs and careers for your characters. After all, they have to work somewhere, right? And where they work may affect how they act, or think, or respond to crises. Likewise, if you’ve paid attention to our last two weeks of episodes, then you’ll figure out that knowing their traits and emotional wounds may also move them closer or further away from a particular career. Have you given him or her a career consistent with his emotional state? Is he right for the job?

And what job does he have? Is he a police officer or a firefighter? What about an architect or chef? A landscape designer or treasure hunter?

Well, these jobs and so many others are all featured in this week’s book of focus, The Occupation Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Bella Puglisi, and if you’d like to know more, then you should watch me talk about it in my latest video.

And don’t forget to check out the book at the link below, and be sure to explore Angela Ackerman and Bella Puglisi’s other thesauruses for a complete suite of character development tools. They’re all useful.

The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers

by Angela Ackerman & Bella Puglisi

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 318 pages

·  ISBN-10: 099929637X

·  ISBN-13: 978-0999296370

·  Publisher: JADD Publishing (July 13, 2020)

Note: This book and other thesauruses by Angela Ackerman and Bella Puglisi contain entries that can also be checked online via their database of definitions at One Stop for Writers. This service not only contains the same entries that you can find within this and other books in the series, but they have additional categories exclusive to the service (like weather and color thesauruses), as well as a character creator that allows you to integrate traits, emotional wounds, etc. directly into character creation. If you’re an industrious writer who likes to know his or her character before writing about him, then check it out.

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.

Series Note: We’re taking a break next week to discuss paperback creation with software tools like Affinity Publisher. But never fear! The Writer’s Bookshelf will return July 16th.

The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 30: Discussing “The Positive and Negative Trait Thesauruses” by Angela Ackerman & Bella Puglisi )

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Whenever you begin a story, you have to start with its first words. And those first words could be “Once upon a time,” or “Gone were the days,” or “Bubba ate shrimp all day long,” or any combination worth a million pages. But then what? Do you actually know your story yet? If you’re an explorer, then you may know it a little or maybe not at all. What about your character(s)? Does that princess live in a castle or a high-rise? Does your aging detective still have a job? Does your buddy character eat anything other than shrimp?

You may not have the answers to everything at the beginning, and maybe you don’t want to. But you’re gonna have to know those characters eventually, and what better way to understand them than to study their potential traits?

Is that aging detective amiable or cranky? Is he industrious or lazy? Resourceful or irresponsible? At some point you’ll need to know, and what better time to find out than right now?

Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. This week we’re covering not one, but two guides that can help you get to know your characters better before you even write, “These were the best of times, but they were also just the worst.” The Positive Trait Thesaurus and The Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Bella Puglisi are just the books you need for your bookshelf if you want to create believable characters with identifiable attributes that are accurate and conflict-driven.

Check them out at the links below, and check out my companion video where I discuss them in greater detail. Don’t forget to let us know what you think.

The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes

by Angela Ackerman & Bella Puglisi

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 252 pages

·  ISBN-10: 0989772519

·  ISBN-13: 978-0989772518

·  Publisher: JADD Publishing (October 3, 2013)

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws

by Angela Ackerman & Bella Puglisi

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 270 pages

·  ISBN-10: 0989772500

·  ISBN-13: 978-0989772501

·  Publisher: JADD Publishing (September 24, 2013)

Note: These books and other thesauruses by Angela Ackerman and Bella Puglisi contain entries that can also be checked online via their database of definitions at One Stop for Writers. This service not only contains the same entries that you can find within these books, but they have additional categories exclusive to the service (like weather and color thesauruses), as well as a character creator that allows you to integrate traits, emotional wounds, etc. directly into character creation. If you’re an industrious writer who likes to know his or her character before writing about him, then check it out.

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 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.

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 28: Discussing “Writer’s Guide to Character Traits” by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D. )

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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.

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 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.

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 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.

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.