These are some of the resources I’ve used over the years. Some of them are helpful and worth the time and money, and others aren’t. These are of course subjective, and you may find the resources that work for me don’t work for you or vice versa.
Resources I Recommend
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass
Why I recommend these books: Donald Maass’s books are great quality guides for various storytelling elements. Maass breaks down plot, characters, setting, etc. and provides helpful tips for improving each aspect to help writers create stories that shine. I refer to these books all the time.
On Writing by Stephen King
Why I recommend it: Stephen King provides sound advice regarding the technical aspects of writing in his memoir. I’ve read it multiple times.
The Mind of Your Story by Lisa Lenard-Cook
Why I recommend it: Lisa Lenard-Cook covers many of the storytelling basics, making this a good book for beginners. I particularly like her advice on the editing process and refer to that section frequently.
Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern
Why I recommend it: If you have trouble coming up with story ideas, the story shapes in this book are an excellent starting point that serve as an alternative to traditional writing prompts.
Why I recommend it: Brandon Sanderson is one of the biggest authors in sci-fi fantasy right now, and he is kind enough to post recordings from his science-fiction and fantasy writing class at BYU. He mostly covers characters, plot, and setting/worldbuilding. His lectures have been incredibly helpful for me, and I highly recommend them.
Why I recommend it: Alexa Donne provides sound advice on a variety of topics related to writing and traditional publishing.
Writing with Jenna Moreci
Why I recommend it: Jenna Moreci provides advice on a lot of the basics, so her channel is great for beginning writers. If you’re interested in self-publishing, I think the most valuable content on her channel comes from her videos on marketing and self-publishing. Jenna’s channel contains adult content, so I wouldn’t recommend it for young writers.
Why I recommend it: Meg LaTorre covers some of the basics in regards to writing itself. She is self-published, so she has great content on that process. She is also a former literary agent, so her most valuable content, in my opinion, comes from her videos on getting agents.
Resources I Don’t Recommend
Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell
Why I don’t recommend it: The content of this book is incredibly basic, as in it explains what conflict and characters are. If you don’t know that basic information, it is super easy to find it on the internet for free. The rest of the book was mostly tips for brainstorming story ideas, and again, you can find that information on the internet. I gained nothing from reading this book.
Dialogue by Gloria Kempton
Why I don’t recommend it: I disagree with all of the advice provided in this book. I feel like it made my dialogue worse, not better. Some of the claims the author made are unfounded. For example, she says teenage girls make every sentence sound like a question, e.g. I want a car for my sixteenth birthday? I was a teenage girl when I read this book, and I promise you we don’t speak that way. If you were to follow this book’s advice and have your teenage girl characters speak like that, your readers would get annoyed really quickly. If you want advice on writing dialogue, the recommended resources above are far better. I particularly like Brandon Sanderson’s dialogue advice.
Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway
This book was required for one of my college courses, and it is the number one most-used writing textbook at colleges and universities. I, however, found the advice to be incredibly unhelpful. Almost everything this book recommends goes against what I’ve learned from the resources I recommend as well as my writing mentors and one of my creative writing professors. I think this book is geared more toward people who write short literary fiction than people who write novels or genre fiction. When I utilized the advice from it, my writing quality was significantly worse. If you write genre fiction, this book definitely isn’t for you.