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21 January 2021: On Craft Books

This past weekend was a holiday weekend due to MLK Day, which allowed me to actually get quite a bit done. I did some writing, I started and finished reading The Dating Plan by Sara Desai (fantastic book, definitely recommend!), I edited and recorded another episode for the podcast, and I started taking notes on my new craft books.

I bought four books on an impulse and received another for Christmas, so I decided to do some studying. Here are the books I got:

  • Save the Cat! Writes a Novel

  • Stephen King's On Writing

  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

  • Manuscript Makeover

  • The One Year Novelist

Unfortunately for me, taking notes on these craft books and devouring The Dating Plan caused me to realize (again) that the plot for Rory & Boone isn't strong enough. Not for lack of trying, but when you're a pantser, it takes a while for the story to unfold in the way it's meant to. As I've said before, I've been working on Rory & Boone since June, and although I've tried plotting for this story, I may have to rework it again once the first draft is finished.

In any case, there are just a few things needling at the back of my mind to fix in this story:

  • Does it fit the fifteen beats from the Save the Cat! beat sheet?

  • What is Boone's big romantic gesture?

  • What is Rory's big emotional growth point?

  • Is the B plot present enough?

  • Is the theme of the story obvious?

  • Are the stakes high enough?

  • Does it fit the Bechdel test, considering it's a romance?

Who knows how many more notes I'll have for myself by the end of the draft? Though it's definitely adding more work to my plate, I'm hoping that the story will be better for it by the end and that the notes I take on these craft books aren't for naught.

Depending on how life shakes out, I may share some of the things I've learned in the next newsletter in April!

What craft books are vital to you as a writer?

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