Yesterday, I finished reading Donald Maass The Fire in Fiction. I give the book a solid B+. The plus is because of the practical tools pages at the end of every section. You can read through these and apply the questions to your work in progress, which is handy. The book had a lot of examples from popular fiction, some of it I've read, so it makes for a good example of what he's talking about. I also liked his take on inner and outer turning points, and how to make "monsters" scary. For those three reasons, this book will go into the keeper basket.
That aside, I feel like The Fire in Fiction is for more advanced writers, not those just setting out to write a book. If you're a true beginner, I still recommend Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy. Don't let the title fool you. That book is the best, of the best, of the best in my humble opinion. Everything you need to know to kick off writing a novel is in there, and it's written in the clearest way possible. Also of all the writing books it covers the most material - so it's more of a complete course than any other writing book I've read. And I've read a lot of writing books.
Another thing I want to bring up...something I mentioned on my Facebook earlier today. Authors, writers, please put some kind of email address or contact form somewhere on your website so people can contact you - especially if you don't log in to your social media networks everyday. I can't stress enough how important this is. A current example of why this is necessary: an author's account is sending me phishing emails, and I have no way to contact her to let her know she has been hacked.
This is actually the second occurrence (different people) over the past two weeks. These people could return to their pages days from now and find them deleted by the social media site, or worse, because no one could reach them to let them know what has happened. A simple contact page could save these people a lot of trouble.
That's all for now. I'm off to crash across the bed to read. I hope you all have a relaxing Saturday!