I recommend that you read many different craft books. Pick and choose the tools, definitions, and exercises from each source that suits your way of thinking and creating.
Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V Swain. Highly recommended. Swain’s Motivation-Reaction Unit is the most basic tool of writing well.
Story by Robert McKee. Though McKee wrote this for screenwriters, there is much for a novelist, and even a short story writer, to learn. His principles of antagonism are a tool I will never go without again.
Save the Cat: The Only Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need: the Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder. Another screenwriting book. Blake Snyder has a different way of looking at story structure with lots of examples from films. His beat sheet is another tool I’m using.
Plot and Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot that Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell. Clear direction and exercises to help you write a story people will want to read.
Conflict and Suspense by James Scott Bell. Helpful information and tips on an area where many writers are weak.
Scene and Structure by Jack Bickham. Another book on story structure that gives you a different game plan.
Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card. An in-depth examination of how to create your characters.
Bullies, Bastards, and Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction by Jessica Morrell. Villains get three-dimensional.
Story Genius by Lisa Cron.
Writing the Natural Way by Gabrielle Rico, Ph.D. Exercises to get the muse going.
Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us by Jessica Page Morrell. Examples of bad writing help you write better.
Writing the Breakout Novel: Winning Advice from a Top Agent and His Best-selling Client by Donald Maass. Maass, a top agent for science fiction and fantasy authors, breaks down the elements that are common to any best-selling book. The examples he uses are from best-sellers.
The Fire in Fiction: by Passion, Purpose, and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great by Donald Maass. Examples and exercises designed to show you how to infuse your fiction with passion.
Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing by Larry Brooks. A systematic set of guideposts for making your story successful.
How to Write Best Selling Fiction by Dean Koontz. A practical, detailed approach to writing from a best-selling author.
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. Unlock your potential, recognize and overcome the resistance that keeps you from being the best writer you can be.
100 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Gary Provost. A guide to making your writing stronger.
The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. Focused on hooking your reader.
Writing Excuses Fifteen minute long discussions of craft across the spectrum of speculative fiction genres.
The Creative Penn Joanna Penn is from Great Brittain but her advice and interviews on all aspects of writing from creation to publishing to marketing is brilliant.
The Story Grid Podcast Top editor, Shawn Coyne, teaches Tim Grahl, a beginning writer, how to write a story using Shawn’s tool, the story grid.
MargieLawson.com Margie teaches writers how to use her psychologically-based editing systems and deep editing techniques to create page turners.(direct quote from her website because I can’t do better. )
StoryGrid.com An editor-created, detailed, spreadsheet for developing, writing, and editing your story.
HollyLisle.com Holly teaches writers How to Think Sideways and How to Revise Your Novel, plus many other well-thought out and useful courses. Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel and How to Write Sideways courses. If you use these buttons I will get a small monetary compensation. You can, if you wish, go directly to Holly Lisle’s website (here) to sign up for one of her courses.
Dean Wesley Smith A prolific writer across multiple genres write about writing and the business of writing. He has two series that contain tons of good information: Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing and Think Like a Publisher.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch Kristine’s business musings are always worth reading. So’s all her other posts and her free fiction.
John Scalzi’s blog Whatever where John talks about writing, science fiction, fans, and whatever.
Dan Wells on Story Structure – the first in a series of YouTube videos on story structure.
The Hemmingway App – A tool to evaluate the readability of your text.
Grammarly Paste in your text and check your grammar.
Grammar Girl A website with quick tips on the quirks of English grammar.
Writer Beware Warnings About the Schemes, Scams, and Pitfalls That Threaten Writers
Preditors and Editors A guide to publishers and publishing services
The Virtual Reference Desk Created by a reference library, this searchable site contains links to thousands of research and government documents
Timetables of History: a Horizontal Linkage of People and Events by Bernard Grun
The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr and E.B. White