The book I've been spending at least one chapter with every morning for the past few days is Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. I adore this book for a lot of reasons, and as I'm entering the last 50 pages of it I wanted to give it a shout out, because it's a fantastic writing book, and one that I dug out the highlighter and notes for.
I was a huge fan of Blake Snyder's Save the Cat! books. So when I got wind of the theories being broken down into theories on novel writing (which was what I had been reading Blake's books for) I ran to my local bookstore to grab a copy on release day.
Of course my local bookstore doesn't put much emphasis on writing and craft, so there was a single copy tucked away in a four foot section next to the kids books. When I finally got my hands on it, the cashier rolled his eyes and mansplained how the only thing you needed to write a good novel was a good story. Which is why I try to steer clear of Barnes & Noble on the south side of Indianapolis as much as possible. But I wanted this book in paper that day, DAMMIT! (Sorry for the tangent. That store's attitude toward anything other than bible study and cookbooks pisses me off.)
ANYWAY...I've dug into the book and it's been such a fucking pleasure to read that it was worth dealing with the bookstore asshats. Jessica Brody has an academic slant to the breakdown of the beats, uses common knowledge examples in both literature and movies, and has an author voice that is a joy to read.
This book has me looking at different parts of the novel in new ways. And while I generally knew what worked and what didn't in the books I read, this craft book helped me put a finger on WHY those items worked. And it gave it a label. And not some multi-syllabic mumbo jumbo I'd have to take notes on to remember. These were labels that made sense in layman's terms. With labels like "Bad Guys Close In", "Buddy Love", and "Dude With a Problem", the topic had an image popping into my head before the chapter even began.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is writing a novel, or even anyone who is studying them academically. This book gives you a delicious amount of insight as to what formula's work, and even when authors sidestep the formula by adding additional heroes or killing off their B story or even main characters, how those same authors used solid techniques to accomplish those plots with flair.
Quick note...this book is available in both ebook and audio book as well. I would HIGHLY suggest getting this in paper. There is a quick reference guide, and the author breaks down books by ten basic story types, that would be fantastic reference material. This is one you'll want to flip through over and over again. At least, you will if you're me!
Are there any new craft books you've been thrilled with? Or even self-improvement books you've loved? I'm almost done with this book and will definitely need something new for next week's reading.