Fiction Writing

If you or someone in your household has a passion for writing fiction, these are the resources I recommend you start with to learn more.

I have divided this page into four main sections:

(You should know none of these businesses or products have any idea I’m repping them; in all cases, I have either personally used them in the past or currently use them today.)

Craft Basics

Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

A foundational text about the basics of plot, this an excellent place to start your fiction writing education. The book is divided into manageable chapters with exercises at the end of each one.

He has many other excellent books on writing, which you can find on his personal website.

As a bonus, he’s also a Christian!

The Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson

Ingermanson is industry-famous for his method of developing a novel by starting small and unfolding incrementally.

While his teaching website is devoted to advanced fiction techniques, I think it’s a good idea to learn the Snowflake Method early on. By learning this now, you will understand the basic concept and start developing your ideas more efficiently from the start.

You can always revisit the information later once you have mastered more theory and craft to see what you missed the first time.

If you like the blog version, you can find the full book of the Snowflake Method here.

In addition to his fiction training, Randy is a Christian novelist who writes first-century Jerusalem fiction.

Something Startling Happens by Todd Klick

A piece of story structure training born from the field of screenwriting, Something Startling Happens will show you how to feel the minute-by-minute beat of most Hollywood movies.

It will also teach you how to apply that sort of audience anticipation to your benefit in your own work.

This is a foundational element in basic story structure education. Not to be missed.

Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

This is an overview of common plot tropes. The first section is a primer on basic plot concepts (three-act structure, the six types of conflict, etc).

The rest of the book identifies 55 common types of stories and outlines their pacing in generic ways that you can disassemble and reassemble onto your project.

Due to its nature, this book can feel a little abstract, but it is a valuable tool for learning the basic flow of most stories.

The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever, and Sue Viders

I have talked about this book so much over the last 10+ years, I don’t even need to look up the authors to know their names. This is the character equivalent of Story Structure Architect.

Heroes & Heroines is your recipe book to see at a glance your most basic character components boiled down to their cores. It’s up to you to add nuance, deviations, and originality, but this book will give you a starting place.

Buy this and keep it by your desk for handy reference.

Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress

A primer text on how to write compelling characters and infuse them with life and speech. Complete with exercises at the end of each chapter.

Dialogue by Gloria Kempton

A great starting point for learning how to give your characters dialogue worth reading.

Description & Setting by Ron Rozelle

It’s not enough to structure a solid story, building it around a moving character arc of internal growth, and bring those characters to life with great dialogue.

You also need to build worlds that live in the reader’s mind. Writing great exposition and description is hard. This book helps you learn how.

Business Basics

Novel Marketing Podcast by Author Media

You will get no better education on marketing basics, sales strategy, industry overview, and publishing technology then this podcast.

The host, Thomas Umstattd, is direct and full of factual information. He’s also a Christian, and although the show is not explicitly faith-based, it is clean for all ages.

Learn more at his business website, Author Media.

Advanced Craft

Creating Character Arcs by K. M. Weiland

If you read no other book on the Advanced Craft list, read this. Weiland breaks down the internal mechanics of character growth (and explains why every story should be built on that) in the best way I’ve ever read.

If you want to write fiction that touches people’s hearts with real change, mastering character growth is a must. This book will help you get there.

Helping Writers Become Authors by K. M. Weiland

This website is Weiland’s writing brain distilled into digitized format for the benefit of mankind. It is my personal belief you will not find a deeper dive into story structure theory anywhere else on the Internet.

It is both mind-blowingly thorough yet accessible, at least for the student who is willing to pace themselves and take it slowly. If all you did was delete Facebook off your phone and instead read one blog article per bathroom visit instead of scrolling, you would be a better writer by the end of the month.

As a bonus, all clues currently indicate she shares our Christian faith!

Between the Lines by Jessica Page Morrell

This book is about the art and craft of writing words themselves. You won’t learn about story theory, character arcs, or three-act structure here.

Instead, Between the Lines shows you the subtle techniques that makes a writer an expert in words. Pacing, voice, style, and flow are the finer elements that make your writing sound like a pro. This book shows you how.

Advanced Business

Book Launch Blueprint by Author Media

If you’re ready to seriously train for a career in writing, the Book Launch Blueprint class by Author Media is your first stop. It runs once per year for approximately 4 weeks.

It’s specifically designed for people launching a new book in the next 6 months to 2 years. However, most of the principles are best learned far in advance so you can avoid wasting time on common pitfalls.

My advice? Take this class as soon as possible. Once you purchase it, you have lifetime access to all current and new content. And, you’re invited back to participate each year (for free) as an alum. There’s really no reason to wait!

If you need a personal testimonial of how impactful this class was for me, check here. Or here. Or here. Or basically all of this one (written version available here for easy skimming).

If you’re still not convinced, go listen to a few episodes of Novel Marketing Podcast for free. That will convince you. See you in class.

Kindlepreneur Blog, Podcast, and Apps

I discovered Dave Chesson and his business, Kindlepreneur, when he was a guest speaker on Novel Marketing Podcast.

Both his blog and his podcast, The Book Marketing Show (no longer produced but still available for download) are immensely useful for developing tech- and business-related skills for indie publishing. Including but not limited to: Amazon keywords; everything Kindle and ebooks; ad-based marketing; and more.

He also has several excellent tools for serious indie authors. Some of them are free (such as the Amazon Book Description Generator). Others are paid apps (such as Publisher Rocket). I myself use both of these tools and love them.