This week, since so many people are on spring break, I'm going to share a few of my favorite books with you. I'm going to start with a craft book.
Plot v. Character is a new writing book, releasing in the fall of 2010. Jeff Gerke, the author, has developed software (which I love) that walks writers through the creation of stories through two means. Starting with 1) the plot or 2) the character. Most writers have a style that they prefer -- I tend to be strange (shocking I know!) and will start some stories with a plot idea and others with a character. I'd used the software when I'd get stuck in a book or to help flesh out a germ of an idea.
What I love about the book is that it takes the gems from the software and puts it in a very easy to read and apply format. The book has lots of practical applications and covers just about everything a novel writer needs. It's not genre specific, so really is a tool that any novelists can use with success.
First, the book deals with creating likable characters. It addresses everything from physical attributes to the major events and inciting incidents that character must deal with. Then it turns to marvelous plots. The author relies on the three act structure to form the bones of the plot. I would still use the software to help me implement all he talks about, but the book alone is gold.
Another book that I love and recommend to most aspiring writers is James Scott Bell's Plot & Structure. (His Revision and Self-Editing is equally good.) Plot & Structure's strength is the very easy way that Jim explains how to formulate a novel. When I get stuck in a plot, I'll pull it out and read a few pages for inspiration. I always come away with practical tools I can immediately apply to the novel I'm writing. And this book is loaded with excellent exercises that you can apply immediately after reading. I highly recommend it!