What one how-to write book is a must on your bookshelf? Why?
I was recently asked the question by Deanna Jewel as part of an author interview. My answer, along with the complete interview, will appear on her blog on March 3rd.

However, w
hile every writer strives to keep her readers in suspense, I have no intention of making you wait three weeks for my answer!

The book is "Techniques of the Selling Writer" by Dwight V. Swain.

It’s an invaluable resource that offers something for the beginning writer to publication and beyond. If you write fiction and do not have a copy of this book, get one ASAP. Make it a top priority. Better yet, make it a 2011 writing goal.

Speaking of goal, every character in your story must, should, ought to have a goal, and they should have a goal in every single scene. Otherwise, there is no story.

I love the simplicity of Swain’s definition of goal. The character, he says, wants "something. That something always falls into one of three categories:

(1) Possession of something...a girl, a job, a jewel: you name it.

(2) Relief from something...blackmail, domination, fear.

(3) Revenge for something...a slight, a loss, betrayal.

In DEFENDING GLORY, first of the Piedmont Island Trilogy series, the heroine wants to build a retreat. The villain wants her to stop construction and leave the island. The hero, of course, is determined to complete the retreat AND protect Glory. Three distinct characters. Three diverse goals that carry the story to the end.

My question for readers: What is the goal of the main character of the book you are currently reading? Why do you think it is important?

My question for writers: What one how-to book is a must on your bookshelf? Why?