1. Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Edited by Laurie Lamson. There’s a wealth of exercises in this book but also insights on how each writer writes. Vincent M. Wales talks credibility, Diego Valenzuela on how to plot an entire story in minutes, Lois Gresh discusses story endings, William F Nolan heroes and villains, Melissa Scott world building and the list goes on. I have to agree with Joe R. Lansdale though, personally, about writing exercises. I’ve tried them and they don’t seem to help me. What I mean is, they seem pointless. I know they’re supposed to develop writing muscles but I can’t see writing something I don’t want to write/that I’m not interested in. All that aside, I know they help others and this would be an awesome book for those who do enjoy them. Each of us writes and learns in our own way, this is another way to try if you haven’t already, and see where they take you.
2. The Positive Trait Thesaurus and The Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackman and Becca Puglisi. These companion books are one of the BEST WRITING TOOLS out there!! I highly recommend them. The books discuss traits you can use to flesh out your characters when you’re developing them. I pick the suggested four positive traits and one negative or flaw for each “good” character. For the bad ones, I do the opposite. This gives my heroes and villains a good foundation. By the way, they also have The Emotional Thesaurus out and I’m excited to hear, more books on the way. The emotional thesaurus helps sketch out the scenes when you get stuck trying to give your characters reactions/actions to what is going on. If you haven’t used these books yet, look into them, you won’t be disappointed!!