A great starting point for a new author or one who wants to improve their craft.
I know this will be a controversial decision, not because they’re not great books (they are - and the companion workbook is also highly recommended) but because there are so very many good books out there which detail the key points of story structure.
Certainly Stephen King’s “On Writing” is a classic for a reason. As too is Robert McKee’s “Story” (UK Link) (US Link), if slightly more focused on screenwriting. Not to forget a more recent entry John Yorke’s “Into the Woods” which is extremely popular. All of these are excellent and you will do well to read them.
No, the reason I recommend Weiland’s book is that it is simple, clear and gets to the point straight away. It lets you ensure your story works, hits the right beats that every reader is subconsciously expecting, and is truly satisfying in the way that great tales can be. Following the workbook steps alone is enough to get your story licked into shape - and doing it before you start writing (unlike yours truly) will allow your imagination to soar and create amazing stories without needing to worry about the niggling details behind the scenes.
The other books go deeper into why stories work, how they work, and are all the more fascinating for that. But for someone who just wants to know what to do with their ideas, the practical guide Weiland provides will get you going much more rapidly. She uses copious examples from popular and classic fiction, and often movies too - you can more easily grasp the structure of a 90 minute movie than a 500-page novel, after all!
You need to understand story structure to write well, and this book does the best job of explaining it of the many I’ve read.
A classic with good reason, King has written more books than I suspect many people have read in their entire lives.
Primarily aimed at screenwriters, but the advice is just as easily applied to all forms of writing.
Very popular right now, and definitely worth your time.
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