When I teach, students often ask me for books that I recommend. I like Debra Dixon’s GMC: Goal Motivation & Conflict; The Building Blocks of Good Fiction. Debra breaks down how good stories work and why, and helps us create compelling characters that will drive our story forward.
Her grids are helpful for evaluating our own stories and making them stronger. I particularly like how she uses several popular movies as examples, and breaks down where they work and where they don’t. It makes it easy to see her points and figure out how to apply them to our own writing.