What’s Your Favorite Craft Book?

Today I’m interrupting the continuation of my Advice to My Newbie Author Self series to rave about the latest craft books I’ve been devouring–yet again:

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

Heroes & Heroines

All fiction writers want to write stories with great heroes and heroines–characters who leap off the page and capture the reader’s imagination.


Fallen Heroes: Sixteen Master Villain Archetypes by Tami D. Cowden

VillainsThe villain is the hero of his own story – and is every bit as important as the heroic characters.


I’m in the middle of revisions, and I have to be honest on this one: I smacked myself upside the head so, so hard while reading these books. Yeah, it can be fairly easy to create characters and dissect their personalities and backstories until our eyes bleed, but if we start with an archetype, that job can–most times–be a helluva lot easier. 😀

I can’t recommend these two books enough. Easy to read and understand with character examples from movies we all know and love, these two books give us the starting point from which to leap into designing our characters. We can begin with one archetype, lightly cross into another (similar) archetype, and we can even take the archetype for a hero and pair him with the villainous archetype that’ll translate best for the readers (and vice versa).

Both of these books have a permanent position within my Must-Have Craft Books shelf. 🙂

Your turn: What craft books are you devouring these days? Do you have an absolutely favorite that you go to again and again?

4 thoughts on “What’s Your Favorite Craft Book?

  1. I have been doing a bit of a chaos run lately: I’ve been recommended “On Writing” by Stephen King and “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott and they’re hilarious from what I’ve read as well as perfect curl-up-with-thick-socks-and-a-cosy-chair reading for when you need some comfort about being a writer.

    At the same time, I’ve been devouring Truby’s Anatomy of a Story, and while I find the tone to be indecisive and cutting at times, it is a useful resource for storycraft. Alongside this is the ever-wonderful The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. I LOVE IT – I love mythic structure and this is gold to play with. I recommend it highly!

    1. Hi Michael,

      Oh, I really enjoyed King’s book too. Definitely a perfect cozy-up-and-read book. I also enjoyed Bird by Bird. Both of those are amazing books. 🙂

      I hadn’t heard of Truby’s Anatomy of a Story. I’ll have to check that one out. Thank you for letting me know about this one. I have The Writer’s Journey too. Another amazing book!!

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your favorite craft books, Michael! 🙂

      1. No worries, I love posts like these! Right in front of me actually is a shelf of books for the craft from rhetorical grammar to psychology to writing poems, including a big old Roget’s Thesaurus.

        And thanks for sharing the craft books you mentioned in your post – I haven’t heard of them but they seem intriguing.

        What part have they played in your own writing life? You mentioned they make characters easier because of the focus on archetype; are they books you keep referring to time and time again because of that?

        1. Hi Michael,

          Oh, thank you! I love posts like these too. Love learning about more craft books. 🙂

          Yes, these two particular books are ones that I’m starting to go back when I’m creating a character. So yes, I keep referring to them. It helps me to ensure I’ve got a good grasp on the characters from the get-go. If I have a vague idea of their core, I can build around that, tweak what I need to, and use what I know of their archetype to hone in on their goals and motivations.

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