1. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    References: Your Arsenal for Writing!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by nastyjman, Oct 3, 2010.

    Hello all, I was just wondering if you guys have a library of references regarding grammar, writing guides, how-tos and what-not-tos. I'd like to get an idea if these types of books are part of your "arsenal," meaning you refer to them in times of doubt and uncertainty. Here's mine;

    - Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale
    (A book about the basics, the cardinal sins and the carnal pleasures of grammar)

    - Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
    (A book by an agent sharing his thoughts and advise on how to breakout)

    - The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
    (The old-zombie book on how to write and how not to write. Succinct and crucial)

    - Gregg Reference Manual by William Sabin
    (The title says it - a reference manual on grammar)

    Thought I share mine and would love to know what you have on your armory. I know I should have a thesaurus and a dictionary there, but the interwebz already have those in a click.
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Roget's Thesaurus (I don't like the A-Z form nearly so much)
    Penguin Dictionary
    Oxford Book of Modern Quotations
    Oxford Book of English Usage
    I have a Penguin Punctuation and Grammar book.

    Those are the books I haven't packed.
     
  3. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I have the internet.
     
  4. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    Come on Banzai. What if the internetz is down!? :D

    Of course the internet is filled with resources, but I like something tangible and accessible.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    As already mentioned, Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. Make sure you get the current edition in hardcopy. The online version is fine for historical interest, but it is not the current edition.

    The Little, Brown Handbook - general grammar, punctuation, usage.

    The Scott Foresman Handbook for Writers - anothe general grammar, ounctuation, usage handbook. Both this and Little, Brown were required references at colleges I attended.

    The Chicago Manual of Style - Comprehensive, detailed grammar, punctuation, and usage handbook for the most finicky questions. Not light reading, but it has the answers most other handbooks don't.

    The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations - self explanatory

    Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins - also obvious

    Online dictionaries are great, but I also have three hardcopy dictionaries of the (US) English language, of various mass and comprehensiveness. I use an online Oxford English Dictionary for UK English. I also have a thesaurus, but rarely use it.

    I have other dictionaries as well - technical and foreign language dictionaries, for example. The CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics containe a wealth of generally useful information, including orbital and other data about planets and moons in the solar system, useful for any science fiction writer.
     
  6. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    My paper resources are pretty much limited to a dictionary.

    Though being at university, I have access to the University of Sussex library, which has enough books that it should be able to meet any need I have.
     
  7. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    Goldmine! Unfortunately, I'm out of college and I lost my Writing Handbook that was required. I searched for it. Come to think of it, it's Little, Brown Handbook that I've lost...

    The Technical Dictionaries, suggested by Cogito, caught my attention. Definitely something I'd look for.

    I have a dictionary in my arsenal, but it's ravaged by time and deformed by my bag. It's in the shelf, and I use a dictionary app on my phone when a word eludes me. Also, as I type, I have thesaurus.com and freedictionary.com open as tabs. Tried to find a better word for "perplex" and "befuddle" and finally found "elude."
     
  8. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have Fowler's Modern English Usage. I barely use it but it is fun to read. Hilariously bitchy.
     
  9. John Cleeves
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    John Cleeves Member

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    Elements of Style.
     
  10. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've got various books but I haven't really used them - really need to explore them at some point - apart from 'Elements of Style' sometimes. I do want to get a nice big old dictionary though because at the moment I'm just using the internet. If I can't find anything in the books I have, I can always use my university's library.
     
  11. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I do actually keep meaning to get myself a copy of "The Elements of Style".
     
  12. Naiyn
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    Naiyn Contributing Member

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    Aside from several that have already been mentioned, I find a lot of useful stuff in history books. Three in particular that I refer to a lot-- all written by Joseph and Frances Gies-- are: Life in a Medieval Castle, Life in a Medieval Village, and Life in a Medieval City

    Also, The Teaching Company has a course taught by Brooks Landon called "Building Great Sentences: Exloring the Writer's Craft" that has a lot of useful tips.
     
  13. Daisy215
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    Daisy215 Member

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    That, a thesaurus, and a dictionary.
     
  14. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Knowing the rules of you language is important, but I think an inspiring writer needs to go on step further and read a book, or listen to/watch/go to some lecture on linguistics and communication theory too to get some depth and valuable perspective on language itself.

    I had the pleasure to listen to TTC lecture series on linguistics "Story of Human Language" by John McWhorter.

    And to be an amazing storyteller I think "Impro" by Keith Johnstone is an excellent tool. It meant of the theatre but all the skills and theory flawlessly transcend into writing and creating stories as well.
     
  15. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    Just googled TTC and saw some youtube links of it.

    Impro is interesting. I checked out the review on it, and it made me want to pick up the book. Thanks w176.
     
  16. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have to say I forgot one very important resource I have a really good and varied literature collection on my shelves that I read regularly.
     
  17. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I must just note that his first book got more useful theory and examples for a writers then his later one that focus on theather sports.

    Counter intuitively "Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre" is the most relevant one and not "Impro For Storytellers". Although both are good.
     

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