A Few of My Favourite Things

15 Sep

Everyone has their favourite tools of the trade – those indispensible items that get the job done quicker, better, easier.  It’s the same for writers.  Here are some of my favourite tools for writing.

The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass.  There’s a good reason it’s first on my list.  Get it, read it, live it.  Writing the Breakout Novel is a great book, too.  I could go on all day about Mr Maass.  Read his twitter tips, while you’re at it.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.  Editing techniques presented in a clear and concise way.  Simply brilliant.  Wow.  Eureka.

The Transitive Vampire by Karen Elizabeth Gordon.  Add The Well-Tempered Sentence to your shopping list, too.  Grammar and punctuation presented in an amusing, charming way.  Sure wish I had these for textbooks, when I went to school.

Making a Good Script Great by Linda Seger.  Ah the screenplay – my first love.  These techniques cross over into novel writing, too.  It’s all about rewriting.

Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Travel Guides.  A great place to start if you’re setting your story in an unfamiliar part of the globe.  Maps, photos, history, culture, art, architecture, geography, climate.  Yup – it’s all there.  Oh yah – good for travellers, too.

Roget’s College Thesaurus.  My mangled, beat-up, dog-eared copy has seen better days, but it’s always within arm’s reach.  Can’t beat the detailed explanations – no word processor thesaurus comes close.

Webster’s Dictionary.  It’s massive, it’s awkward, it weighs a ton.  And it’s worth its weight in gold.


And here are a few books about writing, from the writer’s perspective:

Bare Bones Conversations on Terror with Stephen King.  Here’s a tip:  don’t read this before bed.

The Outlandish Companion by Diana Gabaldon.  Inspired me to tackle my first full-length historical novel.

What would you add to this list?

Now I’m off to wrestle with some man-eating eggplants, for my next sci-fi short story episode of When Mother Nature Fights Back.  You’ll never look at salad the same way, again.


8 Responses to “A Few of My Favourite Things”

  1. Anne Michaud September 15, 2011 at 11:19 AM #

    I would add Save the Cat by Blake Snyder – yes, screenwriting, but it shows writers how to be spot on on first try.

    We share a few titles, there, Di. Maass is still beyond my fav, though – thanks to you who made me buy Fire in Fiction couple months ago:)

  2. Angela Addams September 15, 2011 at 11:39 AM #

    Of course I would add Stephen King’s On Writing…but all of your choices are amazing too!

  3. CDNWMN September 15, 2011 at 1:03 PM #

    I could NOT live without my copy of “How NOT to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them–A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide” written by Howard Mittlemark & Sanda Newman. 🙂

  4. T. James September 15, 2011 at 1:32 PM #

    Thanks… some great recommendations… I’ll have to put them on my Christmas list.

  5. Patricia Hollett September 15, 2011 at 7:50 PM #

    Good blog Di! Some great books here. Read ‘Writing the Breakout Novel’ but still have to get ‘The Fire in Fiction’ and looking forward to it. Good sharing blog. 🙂

  6. Lisa Forget September 15, 2011 at 10:37 PM #

    Excellent list Dianne and wonderful additions Anne, Angela & Tammy. On your recommendation JD I picked up a copy of The Outlandish Companion and happy I did. DG also inspired me to write my first ms.

    Because my teens keep stealing (or playing cruel pranks on their old mother by hiding) my thesarus and/or pocket dictionary, I often have http://www.yourdictionary.com open when I’m writing. I recently purchased Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale in hopes that my prose will become “wickedly effective”. We’ll see…

    Thank you for your very helpful post! 🙂 Lisa

  7. Gareth September 16, 2011 at 6:06 AM #

    I also have Bill Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors which is a useful resource. The other thing that I do is if I see a word in a book that I’m either not sure on or like I make a note of it to check. One of my current favourites is ablutions.

  8. diannewaye September 16, 2011 at 4:59 PM #

    Thanks for sharing your favourite things!

    Ablutions? Gotta look that up.

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