I recommend two books on writing: Gotham Writers Workshop: Writing Fiction edited by Alexander Steele and Essentials of Screenwriting: The Art, Craft, and Business of Film and Television Writing by Richard Walter.
GWW covers the fiction writing craft–character, plot, point of view, etc.–suitable for all formats: short stories, essays, novels, etc. If I had to guess, this is one of the sources from which the myriads of writing books on the market draw their lessons. GWW purports to give the same materials you might get at an expensive writers workshop (except without the feedback, or the expense).
There’s a remarkably detailed overview of EoS on its Amazon page. I was interested in screenwriting which is covered in the first third of the book. I didn’t read the rest of the book which describes the sales and management involved in a screenwriting career.
My major take away from GWW is: rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite a third time. The idea of writing a draft, rewriting it from memory, and rewriting that one, again from memory, strikes me as an excellent way to deeply involve the subconscious in the story’s development.
I admit it goes against my personality to do this repetitive process. But I acknowledge its value and will endeavor to reduce it to practice in some form or other. My stories need more than just multiple revisions before sending them off for professional editing. These editors have never urged total rewrites because of policy (i.e., they like the return business).
EoS emphasizes developing an integrated story. Any element that advances the story and/or develops the characters is in; whatever doesn’t do these two things is out. If it moves the story or characters forward almost anything is in. However, if the story starts out as a sweet romantic comedy set in the South Bronx, don’t have the Martians invade and conquer the Earth in chapter 7.
Here’s an entire ‘Essentials of Screenwriting – Complete Film Courage Interview’ with UCLA Professor Richard Walter on YouTube. Please be aware that there are a few instances of coarse language during the interview. The following is an excerpt from this interview with a self-described crazy old hippie.
‘Most Important Thing I Teach My Screenwriting Students,’ UCLA Prof. Richard Walter, June 11, 2013