If you’ve attended any of my workshops, you’ll know I lug along a ton of writerly texts and resources. Here’s the list for you keeners.
Besides a thick, leathery hide, fierce determination and maybe a multiple personality disorder, here’s the basic stuff you need in your writer’s arsenal to make sure your writing doesn’t suck the big one:
A decent dictionary. (not Word’s online version).
The Concise Oxford Dictionary. Get the most current edition.
A rhyming dictionary. The one I have on my coffee table is a bit old, 1992, but it still kicks butt. A rhyming dictionary is a must have for songwriters and fiction writers alike. GREAT for creative spell casting, ancient curses, prophecies, etc.
The Complete Rhyming Dictionary Revised. Random House. ISBN: 0440212057
A book of clichés. There’s nothing wittier than starting with a cliché and twisting it in unexpected ways. Listen to popular tunage – most songs are built around a familiar hook – a cliché.
Cassell’s Dictionary of English Idioms. 2003. ISBN: 0304363847
A thesaurus. Actually, you’ll need several. (Again, NOT Word’s version). I have a few modern ones for current ling, but I also scour library discard shelves for older editions. These have fantastic, rich words written on their yellowing pages. Each thesaurus will have different levels and depths.
The Synonym Finder. Rodale Press. 1978. (told ya I had a few oldies) ISBN: 0878572368
A dictionary of symbolism. I don’t care if you don’t write fantasy / paranormal or other genre fiction, EVERY tale can benefit a bit of symbolism. Plus, flipping through resources like this often spark story ideas or plot twists.
Cassell’s Dictionary of Symbolism. Any edition.
You can borrow these beauties from your local public library or purchase them to read again, and again….oh, and again.
Books for Writers:
Hooked: Write fiction that grabs readers at page one and never lets them go. Les Edgerton. Writer’s Digest Books. 2007. ISBN: 9781582974756
Plot. (Elements of Fiction Writing Series). By Ansen Dibell. Writer’s Digest Books. 1999. ISBN: 9780898799460
Beginnings, middles & ends. (Elements of Fiction Writing Series). By Nancy Kress. 1999. ISBN: 9780898799057
You can write a novel kit. Sounds lame, but is SUPER fantastic for the newbie author. By James V. Smith, Jr. Writer’s Digest Books. 2008.
Self-edition for fiction writers: How to edit yourself into print. OMG – every writer must have this book! By Renni Browne & Dave King, 2nd edition. HarperResource. 2007. ISBN: 0060545690
Writing Dialogue: How to create memorable voices and fictional conversations that crackle with wit, tension and nuance. By Tom Chiarella. Story Press. 1998. ISBN: 9781884910326
Characters, emotion & viewpoint: Techniques and exercises for crafting dynamic characters and effective viewpoints. (Write Great Fiction Series). By Nancy Kress. Writer’s Digest Books. 2005. ISBN: 9781582973166
The emotion thesaurus: A writer’s guide to character expression. By Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. 2012. ISBN: 978-1475004953
Spunk & bite: A writer’s guide to bold, contemporary style. Like butta, this book is. Writing just isn’t tasty without it. By Arthur Plotnik. Random House. 2007. ISBN: 9780375722271 (I think there’s a new edition out.)
Writer Magazines: these are ones I nab whenever I’m in Edmonton (from that cool Hub Cigar and Magazine store on Whyte Avenue) but you can usually find copies at drug stores or bookstores – or have them ordered in.
West World: Magazine of the Writer’s Guild of Alberta
Quill & Quire: Canada’s Magazine of Book News and Reviews
Writers’ Journal: The Complete Writer’s Magazine
Storytellers’ Journal: Real-life stories from your favourite fiction authors
My Personal Favourite Writing Resources:
Nothing shows you how to write witty dialogue charged full of characterization, purpose and punch better than reading the script of your favourite movie or TV show episode. You can also learn a TON about plot structure, character development, subtlety, larger than life moments and how to NOT KILL THE TENSION.
Film scripts I revisit often: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, Smart People
TV scripts: The Office, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Arrested Development, How I Met Your Mother, Supernatural
Newmarket Press publishes scripts under The Shooting Script series. You can order them via your local bookstore or online at Amazon/Chapters/Barnes & Noble, etc.
You can also read scripts for free online in PDF format at: http://www.simplyscripts.com.
Just for Teens:
There are amazing resources out there for younger writers. Here are a few I like.
Seize the Story: A handbook for teens who like to write. By Victoria Hanley. Cottonwood Press. 2008. ISBN: 1877673811
What’s Your Story?: A young person’s guide to writing fiction. By Marion Dane Bauer. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1992. ISBN: 0395577802
Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook. By Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter. ISBN: 9781596435148 – this is a quirky, entertaining, age appropriate and informative book. Great for teachers.
Juicy Writing: Inspiration and Techniques for Young Writers. By Brigid Lowry. ISBN: 978-1741750485 – a zen resource with some spirit. Again, great for teachers.
Word After Word After Word. By Patricia MacLachlan. 978-0-06-027972-1 – writing skills and life in story format, great for elementary students.
Writing Magic: Creating stories that fly. By Gail Carson Levine. 978-0-06-051960-5 – from idea to plowing through to the end of a story, adding layers and lots of fab writing exercises.
Critique Groups Online:
http://www.critiquecircle.com Critique Circle is one of the best spots to connect with other writers and develop a core group of critters. You can join for free. There’s even a teen section for teen writers (TEENS: Make sure to check with your parents that it’s okay for you to register on the site and use standard Net security – not your real name, don’t reveal personal information, etc.).
Yahoo groups – search the groups for a critique group that matches your needs. (TEENS: Make sure to check with your parents that it’s okay for you to register on the site and use standard Net security – not your real name, don’t reveal personal information, etc.).
Inspirational Books to Keep You Motivated:
Writing the Breakout Novel: Insider advice for taking your fiction to the next level. By Donald Maass. A big shot literary agent – aka – listen to this guy. Writer’s Digest Books. 2001. ISBN: 9781582971827
Bird by Bird: Some instructions on writing and life. By Anne Lamott. Random House. 1994. ISBN: 9780385480017
Online Motivational Tools:
Write or Die: http://writeordie.drwicked.com/ – timed writings with BITE! This can be one scary site if you choose the EXTREME stetting but it’s guaranteed to rip ideas out of your head.
NANO: http://www.nanowrimo.org/ – November is write a novel in a month…month. Great way to focus on a WIP and get that all important first draft completed.
You can also create your own writing challenges. Skype with writer buds and do timed writing sessions. Participate in one of the many online writing prompts sites – they’ll email you a prompt everyday if you want. Start a writing club or critique group at your local coffee house or public library.
Searching for Agents / PublishersThere are so many publishers and literary agencies out there that it is impossible for me to list them all. But there are site that will help you narrow your search to the best agent to represent YOUR writing and the publisher who’s going to give your work a home.
http://www.agentquery.com Once your book is finished, critiqued, revised, hacked and slashed, not to mention polished to perfection, this is where you go to find someone to sell it for you.
http://pred-ed.com/ – Predators and Editors is where you go to make sure your agent or publisher is legit. The site doesn’t look fancy, but the content is priceless.
Okay, that should get you started. Now – go forth and WRITE!
* Yeah, so I probably should have used a formal citation style and impressed you all with my wicked bibliography skills, but I didn’t. Also, I apologize in advance for any mistakes with ISBNs or other goofs.