Put Victoria Mixon's books on the top of your writing craft to-read list.Mixon's second Art & Craft of Writing manual takes the outstanding content of the first and brings it to a formidably high level. Simply put, the two books together would easily serve as brilliant texts for a university intermediate or advanced writing class. Indeed, I urge other writers approaching them to do so when they can take a month or more to read them several times, give close readings to the works she references (especially the three novels and two short stories she uses to show structure in Story).Unfortunately for me, I read both novels when working on revisions for my own novel and don't feel I have the time to study them to reap their full reward. I suspect when I get my current draft finished and letting it "go cold" for a while, I'll revisit both books and give them the time their due.Mixon's focus in Story is on structure. Most of the books and articles I've read on structure are essentially books on plot. Mixon doesn't short-change plot. If you don't pay attention to her examples and the lessons she draws from them, one might even find her plot rules to be rigid. There's a hook sentence, a hook, a conflict, a faux resolution, then a resolution—repeated for the hook, conflict and resolution. Oh, don't forget the fulcrum. With a heavy hand, it's the to-do list for a generic (if quick moving) genre piece. But if you pay attention to the examples, let your mind dance a bit to Mixon's song, she will force you to think carefully about all of the elements of story. This is particularly true when Mixon talks about character. Most of the plot and structure books and articles shuffle character off to the side. Mixon doesn't let you slide by on plotting alone. She demands that you understand how your characters' conflicting needs drive and complicate the plot. In the end, she asks you to know why this character?Even for people like me—rushing too much to get their draft done to give the book the time it deserves—The Art & Craft of Story asks questions that bring clarity to your writing.