What books do you recommend to improve writing?

Its been a while since id been on this site. Ive been in a writer’s funk for the past few months, and im getting the itch to pick my pen back up. I want to try and improve on conveying emotions when i write. I got the whole, msking the reader feel as if they’re actually there, but emotions im struggling with. Do you guys have any books yhat you could remend i look into??

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Hi, it’s been so long indeed! :0

If you’re talking about books that talk about the craft of writing and storytelling, I don’t know any but I think @RowanCarver can help you out with that (: I think she knows some pretty good resources :eyes:

I personally don’t read books like that (I might pick up one later when I have more time), but what has helped me in writing better is merely reading other people’s stories. I notice that my writing changes a bit after I finish reading a published book or well-written Wattpad book, because as you read you tend to subconsciously pick up things as you go :eyes:

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Sure, thanks for tagging me @stella_vigo Here is the link to a reference list I made for my favorite resources:

Out of all of them, I would recommend starting with Sol Stein’s On Writing. His book is probably the best.

These are some good Youtube channels that will help you get started as well:

You can also take courses here at https://www.writingmastery.com/
Membership is only $15 a month. I took Scott Reignten’s class (NYT Bestselling author of Nyxia) (and I got to meet him in person because he lives in my city) and I really found it helpful. But there are other great classes too. Jessica Brody runs the site. She’s the author of Save the Cat Writes a Novel which is included on my resources list

Also Wedizzy posted this chapter on Wattpad in a “how to write book” that, for the first time I have EVER seen on Wattpad, actually had really good advice. Usually Wattpad "how to write’ books are absolute garbage and reference nothing but she somehow managed to be the exception. She knows wtf she’s doing.

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Knowing body language helps too,

@RowanCarver I love OSP >:o

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Wow thank you. Ill have to note these down. Especially the videos. I dont have proper internet atm so youtube is on hold unless im at the library. But with some of those books recommended i can make a request at the library the next chance i get.

And i didn’t even know that wattpad had a how to write thibg on the site. I haven’t been on in months. Rhanks again @RowanCarver

And thank you @stella_vigo . Some of my qriting style has changed because of how often i read. One of my stories, my style apparently changes halfway through. I haven’t had the time to look back on it and see how.

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If all else fails, this guy can inspire you.

I used to use the Emotional Thesaurus all the time but I stopped when it was making my emotion beats too disconnected from the character. Their opening essays are really good though, and they’re good at teaching you how to come up with your own beats that are personal to the characters and specific to the scenes, rather than “one size fits all” beats. I just think it’s worth mentioning that the beats suggested in those books aren’t supposed to be copy and pasted, rather, they’re supposed to give you some ideas. There are some books on Wattpad where I can 100% tell that the writer has this book and they’re just lifting the emotion beats.

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By beats, are you talking a out music? Cause yhats what’s coming to mind.

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I did a whole TikTok video about this, but I recommend any and everything by Angela Ackerman!

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It is meant in this context:

No, I’m talking about story beats and emotion beats.

There are different kinds of beats in writing. Plot beats are probably the main ones that people think about when they hear “beat.” For example, Save the Cat is a 15 beat method. That’s why you use a “beat sheet.”

Then there are emotion beats. How a character responds to a situation emotionally. Or a beat in dialogue that shows how they are feeling. A few people have recommended Puglisi and Ackerman’s book. I would recommend it as well as they go into detail about what beats are. Then they give suggestions for emotion beats.

Here is an example from the Puglisi book p. 140: Guilt
“Muttering tearfully to oneself.”
“An inability to join in fun activities or be with friends.”
“Looking pale or having a harried or haunted look.”

Internal sensations:
“Tightness in the chest”
“Skins sensitivity”
“Pain in the back of the throat”

You can use these ideas to craft the proper emotion beats for your character, whether they be internal sensations, physical sensations, signals, and behaviors, or mental responses. There are also different “vehicles” for showing emotion. Dialogue (and dialogue ‘beats’), vocal cues, body language, thoughts, and visceral reactions. But the word “beat” or “emotion beat” refers to a sentence or phrase that shows the reader what the character is feeling. It most commonly applies to dialogue.

The purpose of the Puglisi book is to pretty much help you figure out what these beats are

I hope this helps.

I’m also a musician, so I understand your confusion.

Some of this is better done with having lived life and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. I’m not saying don’t look at resources–definstely look at them because that 2nd one is killer without pointers, but when writing a hero/heroine that’s everything I’m not, they shouldn’t be so wholly divorced from my own feelings (especially if I’m in-line with the average reader for my audience), at least not in the stage where I’m trying to figure out how this works.

For example:

My first miscarriage? I was not ready for a child, had given up on having one, did not at first want this kid, this change in my life, only to have it snatched away from me like this life is a conniving thief of every worthy thing. Crippling loss as I’ve finally figured out that yes, I want my kid, not easily laughing at anything for most 6 months. I don’t care how tough you are, it’s supposed to rip you up.

Now, this is just a mostly technical explanation of what I went through, but if I’m trying to recreate something just as raw for another character, I really need to lean on who I was nearly a decade ago, especially as this is a very defining moment in my own character makeup.

It’s a lot harder to step into a character who has a different paradigm, especially one that “morally repugnant” to me. At that point it’s stifling my own feelings and putting myself in their shoes, to see how I would feel. It’s a lot harder to fake something I’m not getting behind.

So, sometimes a self-diagnostic would be more: “why is this character so hard to write on this level?”

Just some things to think about while reading up on this.

Ohhhh. Ok. I think i understand now. I never thought of it that way. Ill definitely see if i can get Ackerman or Pugsli next time i go to the library.

Thanks

Thanks. Typically its easy since i always add a bit of myself into my characters, but the point im at in Project Shadow, my character has a falling out with her sister and im stuck with how to proceed after that. It probably doesn’t help im an only child.

Im also sorry for what you went through

Thanks, everyone has their tough moments.

As far as sisters are concerned? I had two younger brothers, and they aren’t generally seen as your competition like a close sister is, when you’re the same sex.

Things to remember, for finding something close, in your own experiences:

A great sister is just like your best girlfriend.
An awful sister is like the worst female bully you had in highschool.
A normal sister is a mixture of these two extremes. She will give you hell one moment and she’ll turn around and tear apart anyone who might dare say the wrong thing about you. She’ll be the start and ending of rumors, both rival and biggest fan.

Oh, and likely she steals your clothes before you have a chance to wear them first.

That dynamic changes when you’re a good 10 years apart. Being the older kid, you’re the second mom, and younger is her baby, if they are close. Sometimes that big a gap means that you didn’t really grow up together, and the older is well out the house by the time the younger starts exploring the edges of adulthood. That type getting together as adults tend to be more the Agent K and Agent J types, where little sister is the rookie for years before being an equal.

Then psychology shows that children’s emotional behaviors come from their peers (including close siblings and cousins) while moral values stem from parents (either instilling morals or giving cause for opposition). Younger kids look up to older kids and kind of ignore younger children if there’s a group of kids together playing.

This is all seperate from personalities.

The roles children and adults play in relationships, you’d expect the older sister to be the leader, and the younger to play too much, but if the older sister is extremely shy, she’s not a natural leader, or if the younger sister is too serious, she could make the older one look lazy, by contrast, and not have an ounce of fun to her.

So, with all these thoughts, who are they to each other, beyond sisters?

That is easy to answer. Natasha (my MC) is only a few years older thrn her sister, Sarah. I constructed thrm in a way that, they e always been close, and only drew closer after their parents deaths. They saw that they only had each other after that.
Its like a “if you fall, ill pick up, and you do the same for me. I’ll always have your back” kind of things. Just like with your best friend. And Sarah was there to pick Natasha up after she lost the love of her life. They had this “no secrets” thing. Always told each other everything, until Sarah found out about Natasha’s job, with is top secret. Thats what im struggling with afterwards. The aftermath of that strong bond breaking.

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Ah, that makes a lot of sense. Being betrayed by your best friend is not something everyone goes through, so it’s a lot harder to draw experience from. I tend to just drift away from people, the only friend that I see regularly is the college bestie that lives with us, so closeness is hard to have for that level of drama.

The thing is that psychology likes to compare things that aren’t the same:

So, they are claiming that divorce is often the same rollercoaster that dying produces. And if that is so, I’d suggest that a very close family bond wouldn’t feel any different as it’s broken.

There are key differences: the anger you feel at being abandoned by your dead loved one cannot be taken out on the dead–but that anger can be lashed out towards the living:

“You abandoned me the whole time, just like mom and dad!”

Overdramatic, yes, but that angry stage, while human, isn’t rational.

This is 5 steps of grief, and right before they reconcile it’s going to be about letting go of pride and the guilt of all the wrong things said and done.

The Stages of Grief: Accepting the Unacceptable | Counseling Center.

So, this stuff cycles: that means you can show the first cycle rapidly during the fight, and the days can go through that all over again, slowly.

So, this stuff may help on figuring out what further directions to go for the necessary drama.

Another thing to keep in mind is the one with the secret will be going through the same trauma in their break, while feeling the guilt of what they kept behind, indignation for being accused of crazy things is a likely outcome.

“Just because I had a job I couldn’t talk about, you think I abandoned you?!”

Then:

The good thing about reconciliation is that if this is the first real test of their bond, and they eventually seek each other out, while they will be very delicate with it for a while, there is a day when a sense of security that come from knowing you will mend the breaks with this person does forge in the ashes of defeat. Hardships overcome brings people closer, especially if they don’t hide from what pulled them apart when they work to rebuild that trust.

This is more about rebuilding marriage relationships after broken trust, but it’s got some good basic points on how to work through reconciliation, if it’s going to be done at all:

Can’t really work through 20 points in 1 story, but after thinking through the fallout (when you have that settled), this will be a little easier to pick through.

Good luck and I hope reading up on writing solidifies more of this for you.

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