Recommended Reading

Warning: These books and websites are writer’s tools, not necessarily works of a Christian nature. A few of them contain some profanity. Nonetheless, all have been helpful guides and I am certain the knowledge they contain will be invaluable to you as well.

Start With

  • Save The Cat by Blake Snyder
  • Writing Fiction For Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy
  • The Complete Guide to Writing and Selling the Christian Novel by Penelope J. Stokes
  • How to Write and Sell a Christian Novel by Gilbert Morris
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  • The Plot Thickens by Noah Lukeman

Then Read

  • Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood
  • Stein On Writing by Sol Stein
  • Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain (If you want to know how to accomplish something, plotting or character, pacing or motivation, this book will tell you. It is well worth the effort expended to read it, though the print is small and it flows like an Algebra text book.)
  • The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi
  • The Positive Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi
  • The Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi
  • Story Engineering by Larry Brooks
  • Writing The Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
  • Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass

Finally, Read Those Editing Books

  • The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes by Jack M. Bickham
  • The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman
  • The Writing Lessons From the Front Series by Dr. Angela Hunt
  • 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published and 14 Reasons Why It Just Might by Pat Walsh
  • Woe Is I—The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’Conner
  • Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

* Some of these authors are quite arrogant about their conviction that their way is the only way to write. Read them, learn, you don’t have to agree with everything they say to grow as a writer!

*One of the lessons I regretfully learned the hard way: Don’t read editing books before you complete your rough draft!!! I was stifled by editing concerns during much of my rough draft’s construction and did a good deal of rewriting because of it. Make a good plan. (Save The Cat is great for planning) Write your first draft wrapped in the delight of creation. Then and only then prime your mind for that critical endeavor called revision. Things will go much smoother if you do.


Kristen’s Most Important Writing Tip

When I began my first serious writing course they assigned a reading chapter on getting started. I of course read it. It was part of the class work and I love to read. Then I promptly went on with my writing assignments ignoring everything I had just stuffed into my brain. I didn’t set up a writing space, I didn’t set short, mid, and long term goals, I didn’t keep track of my writing hours. I simply wrote my assignments and turned them in. I did this for a year.

A good deal of my reasoning stemmed from fear. If I didn’t give it everything I had, this small creative hope. If I held back some of my abilities and time, some of my best effort and whole heart, then if I happened to fail, I wouldn’t truly have failed, would I?

After a year of regular assignments, regular doses of critique and encouragement, I was a tiny bit stronger inside. My husband saw a small desk at a yard sale and insisted that I have it for my writing. Despite my deep seated loathing (I have been trying to de-clutter for years) for adding random articles to our home simply because the price is 75% lower than expected, we bought the desk. First I set it up on the landing of our stairway. Then it moved to a corner of our living room where people might (gulp) see it and guess that I was attempting some foolish creative endeavor. I bought a corkboard, a whiteboard, a writer’s notebook, a tiny Wal-Mart bookshelf, and put up a chart to keep track of my writing hours. Boldly I put them next to my garage sale desk and proclaimed the corner “my office”. Despite my fear that every entrant to our home would suddenly realize what I was doing, very few people even noticed my office even though it took up an entire wall of our living room. 

I was finally striding forward, despite the many emotional risks. I chose to invest my whole heart and utmost effort into a childhood dream, even with the overwhelming chance of failure. Now jump forward four years. I had been writing most every day with no tangible successes, though I was improving. It became clear that writing during my two sons’ naptime was no longer an option. They weren’t sleeping regularly anymore and the rest of my day was full and brimming with trucks and bugs and attempting to keep them from licking the toilet (yes I’m afraid that toilets have some sort of magnetic draw for toddler tongues). I made a decision that has totally changed my writing world. I am a night person, not and I repeat not a morning person. And I swear if the opportunity presented itself I would sleep eleven hours a night. But nonetheless I began to get up at 5:00am to write. Everything was different after that. I knew that I was a writer, that I would continue writing until I keeled over stiff and dead, published or not. Fast forward again, I now have three sons, get up at 4:00am on non-school days, and finally finally finally have sold a book. It took fourteen years you guys. Fourteen years of writing 5-7 days a week and attending conferences, getting rejected by agents and editors alike, and writing books that didn’t sell. My fourth book ms. was that magical story that someone wanted.

So what is my writing tip?


If writing is the desire of your heart, simply set aside a few minutes of each day and try with the whole of your being.