7 Books to Improve Writing Craft (It’s Not What You Think)

What’s wrong with my characters and why aren’t they talking today?

What am I supposed to do with the awkward middle of my novel?

The plot of my book sounded so exciting in the planning stage…why do I hate it, all of a sudden?


If you’re a writer, surely you’ve asked one of these questions a time or two. Maybe you can think of a few questions of your own. We don’t know it all. It takes time and skill to write your story. If it were easy, then everyone would have a finished manuscript and flawless book proposal.

In real life, we writers have to learn as we go. What happens when we hit a block? We either Google it <please, FBI, don’t check our search history> or we dig into the best recommended writing craft book on our TBR pile.

These are viable options, and I’ve done both on multiple occasions, but sometimes the best option is just reading something you love. Remember the kind of fiction that made you want to start writing in the first place? Those authors wrote so much more than just a story, and you began to believe that you could do it too. Maybe you saw your characters first. Maybe a piece of news or history insisted at the back of your mind to tell its story too. You began to believe in it and you started to write. But now…

Now it’s time to remember why you’re a writer. Grab a notebook & let’s go. (P.S. If you legit need an actual writing craft book in this post, hang on–I got you.)

#1: Life After &

#2: No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

Life After   No One Ever Asked

Life After was one of my favorite books of 2017, and now No One Ever Asked is finally here! (It releases 4.3.18.) These books couldn’t be more different in terms of storyline, but all of Katie’s books are alike in several ways. Her strong female characters are inspiring and the challenges they face are heart-wrenching. Katie is brilliant at taking an already challenged lead character and adding a disastrous situation that forces her to deal with her issues. If you write Inspirational Women’s Fiction, these are the books for you.

Taking Notes:

*Number of chapters & pages per chapter

*How do your characters meet conflict?

*What is the breaking point of your character?

*How does she find healing?

*Write the quotes you love.

#3 The Hidden Justice series by Cara Putman

dying for love    beyond justice    imperfect justice

Romantic Suspense is a new category for me, as a reader. Last summer I had the privilege of attending several classes at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, taught by Cara Putman. Since I started reading this series, I was amazed at the layers of detail in each volume. The first book, Dying for Love, is a prequel novella & the third book of the trilogy is Delayed Justice which is scheduled to release in September 2018. If you are writing Suspense novels, I highly recommend the whole series. Not only for the brilliant writing, also for following related characters as they interact in the series.

Taking Notes:

*Who are the POV characters (the ones whose eyes see the story)?

*What is the problem, mystery or case for the reader to solve?

*What character traits and details stand out?

*How does the author handle the sensitive subject matter in each case?

*Which scenes do you most relate with and why?

#4  The Butterfly & The Violin &

#5 The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron

The Butterfly & The Violin.jpgThe Ringmaster's Wife

These are two of my favorite Historical Romance novels from author, Kristy Cambron. I love the dual timelines in each of these books. The Butterfly and the Violin ties a time in history with a modern day timeline and The Ringmaster’s Wife ties two lives together in one historical period. One reason to read Kristy’s books is her beautiful weaving of time period into the novel. I can always look forward to the costumes, time-accurate dialogue, foods, events and lovely details in each volume. Each redeeming storyline is well worth a read & carries plenty of inspiration for a writer.

 Taking Notes:

*Which time periods are the POV characters in and what details of setting do you find?

*What is the main conflict for each POV character?

*How do the lives of each character connect?

*Which lines contain the most beautiful writing or show the strongest themes of the novel?

#6 The Evaporation of Sofi Snow &

#7 Reclaiming Shilo Snow by Mary Weber

Sofi-Snow-cover.png     Shilo

Last, but not least, I had to feature these Young Adult/Futuristic Sci-Fi novels from Mary Weber. Every time I read her books, the fast paced writing pulls me in right away, and I have about a million questions from the start. Mary is skilled at putting together complex storylines, intense characters with major flaws, and don’t forget the cliffhangers! Make sure you have both of these books before you even start to read one. Trust me.

Taking Notes:

*Which POV character do you love from the start/ hate from the start?

*Which page “hooks” you and why?

*What questions do you find yourself asking at the end of every chapter?

*Which chapter wrecked you in the best possible way and why?

*Which scenes do you find most redeeming in each book?


& as promised…

Bonus**12 Writing Craft Books to Read – from Jerry Jenkins

(just in case you needed a writing craft book to finish that chapter. Add these to your TBR pile.)

Alright, that’s it! I hope you’ve found a few ways to mine the gold from your favorite novel & finish your manuscript. Which book most influenced your writing? Which of these books would you like to try? How has reading made you a better writer?

Let us know in the comments!

Grace to you,


3 thoughts on “7 Books to Improve Writing Craft (It’s Not What You Think)

  1. I like the way you approach this by focusing on different elements of craft for each book. Studying short stories really helps me with novel writing, as well. I look at structure, dialogue, language, POV, theme, imagery. I ask myself: what made this effective? What didn’t work?


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