Monday, May 18, 2009

Research and Writing

They go hand in hand. There is some truth to the axiom "Write what you know" I mean want to piss off a nurse reading your romance? Have your character who is a nurse diagnose an illness - unless she's a Nurse Practitioner OR the doctor is dead - your reader may throw your book across the room. What if you have your characters have lunch at a chain resturaunt but there isn't one in the state you set the book in? A reader from that area will pick it up and be put off.

So today, I thought I'd share my list of research books.

My Library!

The Writer's Thesaurus
Webster's New World Dictionary
The Phrase Finder
The Synonm Finder
Eats, Shoots and Leaves
The Chicago Manual of Style
Passionate Ink: A Guide to Writing Erotic Romance
GMC: Goal Motivation and Conflict
Write Great Fiction: Description and Settings
Write Great Fiction: Revision & Self Editing
Write Great Fiction: Dialogue
Write Great Fiction: Character's, Emotion and Viewpoint
Write Great Fiction: Plot And Structure
English Through The Ages
The Romance Writer's Phrase Book
The Writer's Digest: Character Naming Sourcebook
The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the Middle Ages
World Almanac of Fact - for several different years
Travel Guides for several cities and countries
The Loving Dominant

Now, where do I get all these books? Bookstores (online and off) and my favorite spot - ebay! Yes, ebay! I've picked up several from there less than bookstore prices.

Which one's should a new author have? There are three must haves in a starting writer's library. These three items are essentials of the trade. They are like a microscope to a scientist, a blackboard for a teacher, or a stethoscope for a doctor.

1. A good Dictionary - not one of those pocket deals - no a real thick dictionary - it doesn't have to be the huge college dictionary but Webster's New World Dictionary 1984 edition works for me.

2. A good Thesarus - The Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus is the one that works best for me, I like the way it is set up.

3. GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict - This book by Dixon is a must have whether you are a plotter or a pantser. Unless you understand the basic reasons for a character's actions the reader never will accept them.

If you must have a number 4 - then a good naming book. I like the Character Naming Sourcebook - it is seperated by nationality and has the definitions of the name as well as the top 10 going back to 1880.

Thanks to the internet and research books - you can kick the "Write what you know" axiom by learning what you need to write your books!


  1. I'm in agreement with the ones you name an author should have, but I think On Writing, by Stephen Kind is also excellent and a must have. I'd really like to get Eats Shoots and Leaves. I understand it's hysterical.

  2. I have to agree with you about a good dictionary. Mine lists the approx date a word came into being and that makes it great when I'm writing a historical as I am right now.

    I like Debra Dixon's book, too, although I don't have a copy.

  3. We writers sure do need our books to help us out! Good list.