Real life does not often furnish a dramatic series; if it did, our instinct for order and design would be satisfied, and very likely we would feel no need for fiction.See, it's just like what I said, only pithier and more insightful.
-Damon Knight, Creating Short Fiction p 90
I've been reading Creating Short Fiction off and on for the last week or two, and it's pretty freakin' fantastic. I wish I'd read it before Clarion, so as to avoid some of the rookie mistakes that I made there, and I'm pretty sure I'll end up reading it (or parts of it) over and over again, until I have finally and fully absorbed the many, many invaluable lessons on craft and storytelling it contains.
It's out of print, but if you or someone you love wants to be a writer, or a better one that you/they already are, I can't recommend this book enough.
While I'm at it, I also highly recommend Kate Wilhelm's Storyteller. The two of them pretty much invented the Clarion Writers' Workshop, and, in addition to successful careers as writers, they taught writing (or what of writing can be taught, which is a post for another day) for decades, and both of them have a lot to say about how it's done sucessfully.
It's funny; I spent many years convinced that I could figure out how to write on my own, and in some senses I was right. But it sure is a lot easier when you have such handy guides to the nuts and bolts of things. Wish I'd picked up both of these many years ago.