Monday, May 29, 2017

Fixing the Broken Novel by Annette M. Irby

books on a shelf*

Your hostesses here at Seriously are grateful to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of freedom this Memorial Day. We honor them. Thanks goes out to their families as well.


As many of you know, I’m working on a book series. There’s nothing like a contractual deadline to get you focused on your work, right? Or focused on your weaknesses. I’ve discovered over the years that there are (at least) five stages in growing as a writer:

1. Not seeing the missing elements in your work.

2. Knowing something is missing, but being unable to identify what.

3. Identifying what’s missing but not knowing how to fix it.

4. Knowing what’s missing and where to go for help to fix it.

5. Knowing what’s missing, knowing how to fix it, and effectively fixing it.

This week, I found myself in just such a place as number four above—I knew something was missing in my plot arc, but I couldn’t fix it without help. So I turned to a writing craft book for help.

We’re living in an age of plentiful writing craft books. My writing craft library grows nearly every year, how about yours? I’m forever a student of the craft, and I recommend we stay teachable. Here is a list of some books on writing that have helped me over the years, and perhaps they have helped/can help you:

Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson—a helpful, short-read how-to on mastering deep POV. I often point my editing clients to this resource. Very helpful!

The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler—a guide to mythic structure and the hero’s journey.

The Anatomy of Story by John Truby—written for screenwriters, but helpful for all story crafters, this book helps writers develops story elements in a compelling way to satisfy their readers. 

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell—a nuts and bolts approach to crafting a compelling plot readers can’t resist.

The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke—a book for beginners about writing from your passion, and learning the rules so you can break them. This book also helps fiction writers craft a novel that engages their readers’ emotions throughout.

Write Your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell—a very helpful, short-read guide to zeroing in on your story’s central theme. This writing how-to directs writers to craft the character’s self-awareness moment midway through the novel and write the beginning to build up to that point, and write the ending to show the transformation from that midway point. I highly recommend this one!

The Story Equation by Susan May Warren—another how-to I highly recommend. This guide helps you design your characters by considering key elements. This book released in 2016, and I’ve found it to be tremendously helpful since then in my own writing. Don’t miss out on this one. (Incidentally, I also have several of Susie May’s workbooks as well. Extremely useful! Find them at

Techniques of a Selling Writer by Dwight Swain—everyone talks about this book! I recently recommended it to a client who wasn’t following the logic of action, reaction, decision. (my words). Beginners and seasoned writers will find useful tips here.

For me, having these (and several other craft books) on hand in print format works best. That way I can highlight throughout and then pull them from my shelf as needed. I tried studying craft books on my Kindle in e-book format, and I can highlight there, but for some reason the information sinks deeper when I highlight, and refer back to, the paperback copy.

Your turn: Which writing craft books have helped you the most? Which do you recommend? Do you ever turn to craft books to help you fix what’s missing in your novel? (I sure do!) If you were recommending a single craft book to a new writer, which one would you point them toward?

Happy writing (and studying), friends!


Husband Material by Annette M. Irby

Wyatt Hansen has no fears about commitment, but only three years have passed since his beloved wife died, and he can't bring himself to break their annual dinner date—that is until he meets restaurant owner, Lara Farr. Lara doesn't have time for romance; she has a business to run. At least that's what she tells herself so she doesn't have to admit that commitment scares her. But Lara's business is failing, and it just may take a miracle—or marketing analyst, Wyatt Hansen—to save it. Can Wyatt rescue Lara’s restaurant, help her overcome her fears, and prove he is good husband material?


Annette M. Irby

Annette M. Irby is a freelance editor and Christian fiction author who dabbles in gardening and photography. She has completely fallen in love with her grandson. She enjoys spending time with her family and husband of over twenty-five years. You can learn more about Annette by visiting her website or her page here on Seriously Write. 

Connect with me at:

Twitter: @AnnetteMIrby
Book Review Website:

* Photo credit: the awesome folks at