compiled by Gloria T. Delamar
one GOOD DICTIONARY, preferably more.
Choose a dictionary by looking up words that are special to your areas
of interest and choose the one that best seems to fill that need.
A THESAURUS. This will give you words that are variations on what you want to say. From the synonyms listed, you can find just the right word. A thesaurus should be used in conjunction with a dictionary, so that the subtlety of the words can be verified. Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." One of my favorite quotes--and a terrific prod to rewriting and polishing.
Thesauruses come in two styles, you may want to own both as complements
to each other.
ELEMENTS OF STYLE BY STRUNK & WHITE. This is a classic on usage--a slim volume--available in paperback. The axiom among writers is "Inhale it." Most libraries carry it, but you really should own it. Paperback/various publishers. Inexpensive.
A good current USAGE/STYLE-GUIDE. There are numerous ones available. Just be sure to choose one that's general, as apposed to one that's aimed at (for instance) newspapers, where more short-cuts are freuently employed.
General Reference Books
Of course, internet research may well provide the information you are seeking, but many writers like having these resources in a home library.
A set of ENCYCLOPEDIAS, plus annual yearbook updates.
A RHYMING DICTIONARY. Optional, but nevertheless a standard addition to a writer's library.
CONCISE DICTIONARY OF TWENTY-SIX LANGUAGES IN SIMULTANEOUS TRANSLATION
COMPILED BY PETER M BERGMAN.
Magazines to Read Regularly (recommend having subscriptions)
Digest Magazine. Monthly.
Available by subscription and at newstands and at many libraries (current
The Writer Magazine. Monthly. Same comments as above. This magazine tends to be more philosophical.
The two magazines above complement each other and the serious writer should be reading both. There are several other writer-targeted magazines, but none are as accepted by the p;rofessional writing communityas the two above.
its name, this is a magazine; issued yearly at beginning of year.
Highly Recommended Classics
BECOMING A WRITER BY DOROTHEA BRANDE. see review A classic of inspiration and advice on "getting to it." Tarcher, 1981.
THE SUMMING UP BY SOMERSET W. MAUGHAM. A classic that transcends its time. Mentor/New American Library, 1938.
ON WRITING WELL BY WILLIAM ZINNSER. A wonderful book. Indispensable guide to nonfiction with applications to fiction; attitudes toward language and craft; etc. HarperCollins, 1990.
list of Polti's 36 situations Classic
guide to plotting. The Writer, Inc.
Miscellaneous Reference Books that Evoke Ideas
GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS. Lots of esoteric information. Biggest, smallest, oldest, etc. All sorts of "records set." Bantam.
#1; #2; #3 edited by David Wallechinsky & Irving Wallace.
LISTS #1; #2; #3
edited by Amy Wallace, David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace.
Reference Books about Reference Sources
AND NEED TO KNOWBY
BY MONA MCCORMICK.
BY MARION BELL
& ELEANOR SWIDAN.
EDITED BY WILLIAM BROHAUGH.
EDITED BY KIRK POLKING.
TO WRITING NONFICTION
BY THE AMERICAN
OF JOURNALISTS AND AUTHORS.
EDITED BY MARVIN WEISBORD.
The two magazines mentioned above.
PUBLISHED BY WRITER'S DIGEST
There are also books with targeted
markets, all published by Writer's Digest Books.
There is some overlap with the above in the listings.
There are numerous books about specific areas of writing: article writing, nonfiction books, short stories, novels, mysteries, romances, science fiction, juveniles, humor, poetry, etc. Look in your library, check Books in Print, check the offerings mentioned in The Writer and Writer's Digest, and look in bookstores including used bookstores. Add to your library books that discuss current styles and trends, and those older ones that are classics.
book by its author isn't always the best guide to the book's quality. Some
reference books (or chapters in group-written books) are more puff pieces
by the writer than helpful guides; others are solid with good nitty-gritty
A Few Reference Books to at Least Know About
DICTIONARY BY RALPH DE SOLA. Elsevier.
ABSTRACTSOF THE UNITED STATES. US GOVT.PRINTING OFFICE.
STATES GOVERNMENT MANUAL. U. S. GOVT. PRINTING OFFICE.
A Note About Internet Research
Writers tend to think in terms of books. For research, much that can be found in books is also available on the internet. There's a lot of good information available. There's also a lot of misinformation. Be sure of the reliability of the resurces you consult. This is particularly important in consulting health/medical sources.
--copyright © Gloria T. Delamar
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