I recently acquired John Truby’s new book, THE ANATOMY OF GENRES, and I’m finding it as useful as his seminal THE ANATOMY OF STORY.
Truby is a film industry consultant who teaches an award-winning class on screenwriting. In THE ANATOMY OF STORY, he breaks down the beats that go into the structure of storytelling, from character arcs to character archetypes, with plenty of examples. Though it’s oriented to script writing, I found it completely applicable to writing novel-length fiction. In fact, I use it constantly to plot out novels, using its guideposts as questions to create characters that change and stories that propel forward across distinct beats.
THE ANATOMY OF GENRES builds on THE ANATOMY OF STORY by looking at the beats, themes, and other traits particular to specific genres such as science fiction, thrillers, romance, and so on. The first on the list is horror, which I’m already finding useful for my work in progress.
Seriously, I can’t recommend Truby enough for new writers and veterans looking to level up. Hands down, these are the absolute best how-to books on story writing I’ve ever read.