Tag Archives: writing references

What’s on Your Bookshelf?

This Boat Takes You On A Tour of New York Harbor (Harbour?)
This Boat Takes You On A Tour of New York Harbor (Harbour?)

They don’t use those sails for much, but they look pretty. So.

Every so often I like to say something about reference materials for writers. Not that they change all that much, but still, it’s good to refresh one’s memory from time to time. So, what follows are mercifully short reviews of some of my favorites.

First, in the spirit of knowing the rules in order to break them, is The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White. If I need to say more, are you sure you want to be a writer?

I like humor, both as something to produce, and as a topic. As an introduction to how to be funny, I recommend The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even if You’re Not by John Voorhaus. The title says it all. I wish some of the bosses I’ve had over the years had read this. (Do bosses read, anyway?)

For Characterization, I have two favorites. They compliment each other. The first is Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon. For an excellent overview of how to set up and use internal and external motivation to propel your characters and your story, this book is hard to beat. Like a specific guide to character types? Then, I recommend The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines, by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever, and Sue Viders. What happens if a Chief meets a Librarian? Find out in this book.

For an overview of developing your skills and becoming a writer, I recommend On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by Stephen King. I think Stephen and I attended the same Writers’ Workshop at different places and different times. It’s also quite well written, as you’d expect.

Finally, one I haven’t read yet, but intend to because I like his stories, is Damn Fine Story by Chuck Wendig. I’ll review it after I read it. Look for me on Amazon, per usual.

The links in each paragraph are to the book in question for sale on Amazon.com. You may buy any of them wherever fine books are sold.