Writer Candy

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DiAnn MillsDiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than fifty-five books published. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Visit her website and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

A bowl of M&Ms might propel your creativity, but I want to talk about the kind of candy that sweetens our writing, the books that take our craft to the next level.


1. When I’m stuck on creating a character with unique goals:

The Art of Character by David Corbett springboards me to discover character insight and motivation.

Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass recharges me. This book pumps my inspiration with clear guidelines and examples.


2. When I’m stuck on plot:

Plot struggles takes me down different paths. I read constantly while writing, which helps me see how other writers handle plot. The creativity moves me to brainstorm what-ifs in the context of my own characters and story.

Online blogs and articles from newspapers to law enforcement often report how a crime or event unfolded and ended.

TV shows and movies are a valuable source of tight writing where every moment (word) must have an impact on the story.

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell is solid!

Story Trumps Structure by Steven James is rich with his creative wisdom.


3. When I’m stuck on dialogue:

My favorite resource for composing dialogue is Dialogue by Gloria Kempton. The sections are short with applicable exercises to practice the concept.Thesaurus


4. When I’m stuck on showing:

I have four recourses that I use constantly. All help me visualize a character with distinct physical and internal actions and reactions to my story’s happenings.

The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi rests on my desk. The book blends various emotions with body language and internal reactions.

The Power of Body Language by Tonya Reiman is exactly what it states. Correctly interrupting body language is an art, and most of us aren’t experts in that area.

I Know What You Are Thinking by Dr. Lillian Glass was recommended to me years ago by a Secret Service agent. Another great tool for reading and writing body language.

The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass. Emotions in conflict keep the reader turning pages. This book shows not only how to accomplish that “fire”but with specific examples.


5. When my confidence fails:

I reach for my Bible. My career is my calling, and when I’m down the best way to get back up is a reminder of how much God loves me.

Writing for the Soul by Jerry Jenkins inspires me to try just a little harder.


6. When it’s time to edit:

A solid book to help me during the revision stage is Revision and Self-Editing by James Scott Bell. A first draft is never the finished project.


If you’re looking for one more resource book, I’ve written The Dance of Character and Plot, a step-by-step guide to writing a novel. It contains writer exercises and book recommendations for challenging areas.

No matter what your favorite writing books, the key is to use them, selecting those passages that speak to you and your book.


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