Writing Fiction for Dummies is a "top shelf" book.
I don't know about you, but I've seldom picked up many of the "Dummies" books. But I changed my mind when the fiction version came out, since it was coauthored by Randy Ingermanson (along with Peter Economy), whose blog and newsletter I've been reading for several years.
When I set out to write my first novel, I had no idea where to start. I wondered if I could possibly grow the initial seed of my story into a full novel. I discovered Randy's website, where he outlined a novel-writing process he calls the Snowflake Method. Within a few days of following his directions, I felt confident that I knew where my story was going.
Both the authors understand that one particular method will not work for everyone. Writing Fiction for Dummies outlines four different ways of approaching a novel (including the Snowflake Method), and explains how to decide which one is for you.
Besides packing the book with all that you need for writing the novel, Ingermanson and Economy lay out the details of editing and polishing your manuscript, as well as key information on how to sell your book.
Full of practical examples from well-known novels, and Randy's own brand of quirky humor, this book is one I refer to often.
Randy Ingermanson's blog (don't forget to sign up for his free newsletter).
Peter Economy's blog.