Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t is a must-read for any aspiring writer. The title tells you the problem most writers have, and the rest of the book tells you how to fix that problem.
The most important thing is keeping the reader engaged, and the key to that is telling a compelling story. Author Stephen Pressman discusses some of the key characteristics that make a story compelling. Some of the required rules seemed a bit formulaic to me, and so I suspect they may stifle creativity if they are observed too rigidly. On the other hand, until one is expert enough to understand exactly why breaking a rule is okay (and that's not me!), one is probably better off following it.
Reading the book reminded me of watching the movie Scream. As the book unfolds, you get told why things are a certain way (e.g. "The virgin cannot die!"): because that's what readers/viewers expect for the thing to make sense to them.
Of course, to have any credibility writing this type of book, the author must have strong credentials, and Pressman does. He's had some of his screenplays, such as The Legend Of Bagger Vance, turn into blockbusters.
While it may seem that the book is aimed at fiction writers, it applies to all sorts of writing. Even non-fiction should tell a story, according to Pressman. Of course, this sometimes pisses me off as a reader, as when I'm reading something for its substance I often lament that I have to work my way through a contrived narrative. But I've also put down books that are just too dry to get through without smelling salts, so I may be a hypocrite here.