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Books at hand?

Adrian Sroka, on May 18th asked where we chose to work. Always a good thing to find out how others go about their tasks.

I would like to take the matter further and ask; what ‘technical’ writing books do you keep at hand for regular use?

With reaching distance as I work, I have the following: Collins Dictionary (large single volume); Roget’s Thesaurus (Longmans); Fowler’s Modern English Usage - edited by Burchfield (Oxford); Usage and Abusage (by Eric Partidge); Eats, Shoots & Leaves (by Lynne Truss); Le Mot Juste (foreign terms and phrases that have ‘strayed into English’); latest edition of ‘W & A Yearbook’ – though I do keep back copies for up to five years (not in the front line of course)

At a greater distance are the ‘everyday’ tools of the trade; books of quotations; books of verse; Biographical Dictionary (Chambers); The Oxford Companion to English Literature; The Oxford Dictionary of Music; a complete Shakespeare; French- English Dictionary, and similar for German, Italian, American English, Spanish and Latin.

From there on it is a ‘free-for-all’ of reference books that interest me or are of direct use in my writing.

For many years I have ‘collected’ literary reference books, many from charity shops (at bargain price!), for I was once told, “If you only receive one good idea from a book, that book was worth its price.” It was good advice, and I have picked up many literary tips from my collection.

One unusual set of books is ‘The Children’s Encyclopaedia’ by Arthur Mee (the ten volume edition), these I find invaluable when searching out ‘odds and ends’ for quotes or situations. It is a personal choice, but I find the earlier editions much better than the later ‘coloured picture’ slimmer editions.

‘Britannica’ I use via my local library ‘on line’ service. I would like a bound set on the shelves – but if they were there I would probably never get any work done – I would be engrossed in the pages!

Asked by: Edward Richardson

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  2. Adrian Sroka 1 week ago

    Creative Writing Books.

    Listed below are what I strongly believe are ten of the best guides on creative writing.

    Aspects of the Novel - E M Forster. (Passage to India, Howards Way, Room with a View).

    The Elements of Style (Fourth Edition) - William Strunk j. and E. B. White (Charlotte's Web).

    The Art and Craft of Novel Writing - Oakley Hall.

    How Fiction Works - Oakley Hall.

    Learning to Write Fiction from the Masters - Barnaby Conrad.

    The Complete Guide to Writing Fiction - Barnaby Conrad.

    Sol Stein on Writing - Sol Stein. (Sol and his friends set up the actors’ studio in New York. Sol was a publisher, editor, best-selling author and award winning lecturer on creative writing at American Universities. Famous authors attend his lectures. Sol was also a friend of Barnaby Conrad).

    Solutions for Novelists - The Secrets of a Master Editor - Sol Stein.

    Characters Make Your Story - Maren Elwood. (Creative writing teacher).

    Write the Short Short - Maren Elwood. (For writers of the Short Story).

    Check the reviews on Amazon. You can get cheap second hand copies.

    I hope that helps.

    Good luck.

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