• Margaret Amatt

My top 10 Writers' Craft Books

Updated: May 1

When I started dabbling in writing several years ago, I just followed a story in my head wherever the wind took me and went with it! I started writing several books but never finished any. When I decided to seriously write a novel, I knew I had to take time to learn how to do this properly.


The first step was to read more books! Anyone who's seen my bookshelf will know that it wasn't a difficult task. I love books! All kinds of books from fact to fiction and everything in between. I have books on several subjects and my Kindle is also bursting. What I decided to do however was to narrow my reading for a while to books in the genre in which I wanted to write. This fluctuated for a time between contemporary romance, chick-lit, and historical romance.


When I settled on contemporary I filled my Kindle and read. While I was binge reading, I also bought the first two books on my list; they helped me analyse the stories I was reading and see patterns in them. They also helped me produce "maps" for my own stories.


I moved from pantster (you know the flying by the seat of your pants kind of writer) to more of a plotter. But I don't like to over-plan, that's why I like to call my novel outlines maps rather than plans. I like to have a general idea of where I'm going but with lots of room to put on my pants and fly! So, I'm a plotster! And now I finish the books I start writing because I can see where they're going right from the start and don't get lost on the way.


As I started to develop characters and get more into the nitty-gritty of scenes, settings, backstories etc. books 3-10 really came into play and all of them have been invaluable tools that I go back to again and again.


Here it is! My top ten writers' craft books.

They are worth every penny!


1: Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody

In my opinion, this is the best book out there for plot structuring. No matter what genre you write in, this book is awesome!

2: Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes

For romance writers, this book is the Holy Grail. A straight to the point guide to ensure you hit all the right beats in your novel.

3: The Ins and Outs of a Sex Scene by Cara Knight

I don't write a lot of overly steamy scenes but this book has something for all levels of steaminess! Thousands of synonyms, words and phrases to stop things from getting stale and to inspire different and creative ways of writing love scenes.

4: The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

The following seven books are all by the same authors and they are absolute gold! This one is perfect for 'show don't tell'. It's jam-packed with ideas!

5: The Emotional Wound Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

This is the ultimate brainstorming tool when working on characters' backstories. I have the Kindle version which is just as well because I think I would have ruined a paper copy I've used it so much!

6: The Positive Traits Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

How do positive traits influence your character's behaviour? Hundreds of ideas and examples.

7: The Negative Traits Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

Similar to above, only this one focuses on the impact of negative traits and how to weave these into your stories.

8: The Urban Setting Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

One of the first comments in this book is "never underestimate the importance of setting". This book and the following one are a multi-sensory guide to hundreds of possible settings.

9: The Rural Setting Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

A companion to the previous with rural entries! Another goldmine of places.

10: The Occupation Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

The latest in this series gives insights into a host of different occupations for your characters. Some of them are unusual and others more common. There's also a useful weblink so if the occupation you want to find out about isn't there, you can ask on this site!


I hope you find this list useful!


For more writing tips, check out my other blog posts. I also have free writing resources here.


All covers © their original owners

Recent Posts

See All