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  • Writer's pictureTina Radcliffe

A Tale of Three Dozen Craft Books

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

I'm a craft resource junkie, and proud of it. I believe that everyone's brain is uniquely wired. I know mine is! That means that a book or webinar or writing course that speaks to me could be Charlie Brown's white noise to you.

By the way, this post was suggested by Josee Telfer, an amazing writer I critique with. We're both dusting off some of our favorite "oldie-but-goodie" craft books right now, Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain, and Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. We both agree that as we grow as writers, foundational books like these offer nuggets that we might not have been ready to absorb earlier in our careers.

So, if you were on a deserted writer island, which writing craft resources would you take with you to write your next book?

Here's mine. And please note, these are not affiliate links. Just helpful directions. :)

1. Debra Dixon's GMC Goal Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction

"Goal, Motivation & Conflict will show you how to use these three key elements to give dimension to your characters and direction to your plot. It will help you plan a road map to keep your story on track, discover why your scenes aren't working and how to fix them, create characters that editors and readers will care about, be confident your idea will work before you write 200 pages, end sagging middles and much more. Clear and concise with many helpful examples."

If you want it in print, purchase from the publisher (Gryphon Books for Writers) directly. The price will make you happy.

Warning! This book is for those writers attempting to...PLOT!

This handy little book is meant as a jumping-off point to assist with writing unique descriptions. It's out of print, but can be found at Abe Books with free shipping.

3. The Emotion Thesaurus by Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman

Writers Helping Writers Series (7 book series) includes seven excellent books. The Emotion Thesaurus remains my favorite indispensable craft book. I own it in paperback and Kindle.

If you need inspiration for creating characters’ emotional responses that are personalized and evocative, this ultimate show-don’t-tell guide for emotion can help. It includes:

Body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for 130 emotions that cover a range of intensity from mild to severe, providing innumerable options for individualizing a character’s reactions. It provides a breakdown of the biggest emotion-related writing problems and how to overcome them. And gives instruction for how to show hidden feelings and emotional subtext through dialogue and nonverbal cues.

4. The Hero's Two Journey's by Michael Hauge and Christopher Vogler

Hero's Two Journeys streaming video series. Two of Hollywood's top Story Experts, Michael Hauge and Christopher Vogler, reveal the secrets of uniting Plot Structure with Character Arc.

I recommend either purchasing the streaming option from Michael Hauge's Story Mastery website. -it provides lifetime access- or download Screenwriting & Storytelling Blueprint: Hero's Two Journeys at Udemy. Udemy is an online education platform. Be sure to search for coupons to get this course for 20 bucks or less. Never pay full price. This is also lifetime access on all your mobile devices.

A final option is via Audible. Check it out here.

The DVD version is only available on Hague's site here.

Those are my essentials. What about you? Drop me a line at or here through my webpage and let me know. I'm always up to grab a new craft resource.


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