8 Recommended Books for Authors

In the last couple of months I’ve had several books recommended to me on being a successful writer (whatever that means), so I thought I’d share a list. I’ll be honest, some I’ve read and some are on my To Read list.

In no particular order:

  • “Hack Your Reader’s Brain: Bring the power of brain chemistry to bear on your fiction” by Jeff Gerke – interesting book on the science of emotions as they relate to written media. Helps to identify what establishes an emotional tie to the user in order to keep them engaged and empathetic. See my review on this site here.

  • “GMC: Goal, Motivation & Conflict” by Debra Dixon. I haven’t read this one but it’s high on my list. I learned about it from an online short story class I’m taking through Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. According to our instructor, who suggested it, one of the main points of the book is to make characters someone we can relate to by giving them goals we as readers would appreciate or have in common. Like Gerke’s book above, too, it is important to evoke emotions to connect the reader to the characters
  • “How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy” by Orson Scott Card. “Ender’s Game” is one of my favorite books, so reading this was a given when I found it many years ago. My major takeaway was the importance of a solid magic system that was believable and that  established rules and boundaries. For those who have ever seen a D&D game get totally out of control with magic, you know what I’m talking about. Interesting book with great insights.
  • “Characters and Viewpoint – Elements of Fiction Writing” by Orson Scott Card. In researching the Amazon link for the above Card book, I discovered this one. Based on the usefulness of “How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy,” this book just went to my To Read list. Wow. That list is getting big!
  • “Creating Characters: How to Build Story People” by Dwight V. Swain. A recommendation by CSWriters, I learned about this book during a discussion of what motivates characters. The discussion centered around avoiding pain as well as appealing to the character’s best interests. We are moving the characters down a path toward a goal, and the desire for that goal is so strong the characters cannot deviate from it. I was immediately able to relate the content to the work in progress novel I have going now.

  • “The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers” by Christopher Vogler – yet another recommendation by the CSWriters group, this book includes the “hero’s journey” approach. I learned about this plot structure long ago in college during a Creative Writing course that centered around why Star Wars was so successful. Here’s a discussion, along with information on how Joseph Campbell’s work relates.

  • “The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction: Your Blueprint for Building a Strong Story” by C.S. Lakin. Another book recommended by the CSWriters group, it covers effective story building and should be a great help to any fiction writer.

  • “Being Indie: A No Holds Barred Self Publishing Guide For Fiction Authors” by Eeva Lancaster. Just published this summer (2017), this book looks like a great guide for self publishing, which is clearly a major topic among today’s writers. I can’t wait to read this one!

I hope this list is helpful and I would welcome additional recommendations in the comments. I’m sure we all have a lot of solid resources. One thing this list taught me was the value of a solid writer’s group, since a great many of these books were suggested by other experienced authors.

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