As a first-time novelist with no professional training in writing, I was in desperate need of a guide that could clearly articulate:
a. What I'm doing wrong, &
b. How to fix it.
And I found 'The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing' (2nd edition) from the editors of Writer's Digest. And let me tell you, it is the BEST $20 I've ever spent.
In over 500 pages, it covers absolutely everything you need, from before starting, to after publishing.
Though I had to trim quite a bit of fat (the first 5 chapters were reduced by ~6000 words/24 pages), the novel is flowing so much faster. And although I have lived and breathed the scenes and characters, I find my own heart racing after applying only a few of the techniques!
This handbook is invaluable, and I recommend it even to experienced writers. It is a simple, fun read, but it deepens virtually every aspect of novel creation.
It provides advice on:
Inspiration and ideas
Plot and structure
How to avoid plot holes
Write Mystery, Romance, Thriller, etc.
Showing, instead of telling
Raising the stakes
Speeding the pace
And much more!
If you're in the process of writing,, absolutely give this book a read before publishing! I guarantee, if you stick to these simple guidelines, you will be maximizing on your narrative's potential.
Best of luck!