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Archive for the ‘Writing Books’ Category

Writers own a lot of books, but there are only a few they really use. For me, one of those books is The Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus, second edition. I came across a reference to it in a blog, checked it out online, then ordered it. I love it. It helps me find a word that will freshen up what I’m writing, instead of repeating the same tired old words.

Cover of "The Oxford American Writer's Th...

Cover of The Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus

I recently discovered another book on goodreads that I think I will order. It’s entitled The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Emotional Expression by Angela Ackerman. It’s highly praised by users.

The third useful book I’m going to mention is a visual dictionary. I don’t mean an illustrated dictionary with more words than pictures. A visual dictionary has all pictures that are well-labeled. For example, when writing about a clockmaker, he would be using certain tools and dealing with specific parts of a clock. Most of us have no idea what those might be properly called. Such a book is invaluable then.

Visual dictionary of parts of the head. It use...

Visual dictionary of parts of the head. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)would accurately be called, but with a good visual dictionary you can find the specific term.

Be careful what you buy. A picture dictionary is not the same thing, nor is an illustrated dictionary. Some I would suggest are: Ultimate Visual Dictionary by DK Publishing; The Facts on File Visual Dictionary; The Macmillan Visual Dictionary; The Firefly Visual Dictionary; and the Merriam-Webster’s Visual Dictionary.

I’m always on the look-out for resources that will assist me where I have writing weaknesses. It’s good to cull our bookshelf from time to time and update our resources. Of course, lots of people don’t want to haul books around or store them. There are often good online resources as well. Here are a few helpful sites:

Visual Dictionary Online

Descriptive Words

List of Colors

Thesaurus.com

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Blaas Eugen Von An Interesting Story

Blaas Eugen Von An Interesting Story (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently read a book entitled Storycatcher: Making Sense of Our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story by Christina Baldwin. It’s a lovely book, calm and quiet, but with great insight. It’s not a book about how to write, but more why we write. It shows us how story connects us and the power of stories.

This book can be skimmed for inspiration when we are bereft of ideas and wonder why we keep trying to get a story out. We are all storytellers in our own way, but not everyone is a storycatcher. Be on the lookout, ask questions, meet new people, and most of all be a listener.

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Some writers love revision and others dread it. I felt hesitant. I wasn’t sure how to go about it, so I recently took a class and one of the required books was excellent. It’s called Novel Metamorphosis by Darcy Pattison. It’s a print on demand book available at Amazon.

Whitman's notes for a revision of "O Capt...

Whitman's notes for a revision of "O Captain! My Captain!" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the things I like about the book is that it’s short (about 100 pages) with good-sized print. That didn’t seem so overwhelming, nor did it make revision seem impossible. Another thing I liked was all the sample worksheets you can make on a spreadsheet and use over and over again for all your writing.

The first thing we did was make a Novel Inventory. I’d never heard of this, but the instructor assured us it was very helpful. It took me several days and was a lot of work, but worth it. I’d felt like I couldn’t get a handle on my story, but when I finished this exercise I was amazed. For the first time I felt I could see my whole story and begin to see how things fit, or didn’t fit.

There are worksheets for naming characters, keeping track of character traits, for individual scenes, and much more. Pattison talks about all the things you’d expect from character development to narrative arc to setting, but everything is short and explicit. This is meant to be a guide and a workbook for the writer wishing to revise.

So, if you’ve been looking for a great book to improve your writing in general and assist you in the revision process, this might be it. It sure was for me.

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Writing

Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some days it helps to have a little inspiration when it comes to writing. In January I purchased a book entitled, The Daily Writer by Fred White, “366 meditations to cultivate a productive and meaningful writing life.” It provides a variety of thoughts and information related to writing to reflect on via a page a day.

For example, January 9th is about revision. White tells us that if we write we will need to rewrite. There is no way around it and to accept it as part of the process. He points out many famous authors and the number of times they rewrote their well-known stories.

April 10th is about using your nightmares in your writing. Those scary places and creatures, those feelings of fear, the uncertainty of what will come, can be folded into a story to give it depth. He suggest it might make for good writing while helping to rid you of those hidden demons.

It’s fun to flip though, even if you don’t use it everyday. It reminds us of things related to writing and expands on that with tips and further reflection sections. It also makes a good gift for a friend who’s into writing.

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