Monday, July 21, 2008

Must Have Books for the Intelligent Writer

It is rare when a writer uses the dictionary to find a correct spelling when pressing the F7 key will find it faster than it takes to turn a page. Instead of depending on the mechanical brain, depend on this list of books which will add to any office repertoire while enhancing the overall quality of writing.

The Elements of Style, (Strunk and White) Do you scuffle with which and that as I do? Sometimes you need to go “which” hunting as Strunk and White so cleverly articulate. That is the defining pronoun and Which is the nondefining pronoun.

“The lawnmower that is broken is in the garage." (Tells which one.)
“The lawnmower, which is broken, is in the garage." (Adds a fact about the only mower in question.)

The International Thesaurus of Quotations is a quotation book arranged by ideas and with many different proverbs to match meaning and sense. For those of you who like to use quotes in your writing you will find this book relevant and fascinating.

Writing: "He that writes to himself writes to an eternal public." Emerson, "Spiritual Laws," Essays: First Series (1841)
"I myself, I am not a character in this novel; I am the novel." Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly (1977)

The Chicago Manual of Style. An essential reference of words, technology, guidance for editing electronic sources for all writers. (there may be a version online) I must admit I have used this book the least and while perusing through for this post I realized I have been missing some key points on writing.

A verb is the most essential part of speech and the only one that can express a thought by itself, in a complete grammatical sentence (with the subject understood)




The Synonym Finder, J.I. Rodale. Often one will find oneself trying to think of an exact word and instead of right clicking on a word within your word document and scrolling down to synonyms, try looking up the word in The Synonym Finder. This book cuts down on using the same word too repetitively, incessantly, ceaselessly or boringly.

A couple of equally important books are the most current issue of the Writer’s Market and 1001 Ways to Market Your Books. Who knew that writing would include all this reading?

Write it down,



  1. Hi Carma,

    I have every one of those books on my desk and refer to them regularly. I am also a fan of the New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage. It is a little friendlier.

    Thanks for the good tips.

    Take care,

  2. The dictionary is my best friend, F7 being a distant cousin who I forget exists. Haven't met the synonym finder yet. I thought that I had strunk and white when all along they were that thing which had laid/layed/lain on the bookshelf collecting dust.

    Lisa H.

  3. Hi Judy, thanks. I will look up the New York Library Writer's Guide. Online I suppose.

  4. Lisa, you are too funny. I am the opposite. I use F7 too much.

  5. Thanks for the comment intelligent. Virtual offices are becoming quite the item for many small businesses.