Resource ideas for Writers

Who might benefit from this post?

Anyone who writes poetry, flash fiction, short stories, novels, articles, letters … well, you get the idea. If fellow readers and writers respond, we will all benefit.


Why am I initiating this now?

I haven’t done a writing course. I learned through experience how to build my collection of resource, or reference books, and I’d like to help other writers by suggesting a simple list of books. It may be that some writers don’t feel they need them all, but having a proposed selection is always a good thing. After reading this post, you might like to join the team; let’s work together and help each other to succeed.

What is it about?

It’s about resource, or reference. Yes, of course we can all use the Internet. How about that occasion when the link is down, or you want to be away from the screen for a while. There is nothing quite like having an actual book, complete with bookmarks or page indexes at certain places. I’m going to start us off with my favourite list of reference material. No, not yet; it will come later in the post.

What can you do?

Take part. Leave an opinion if you wish on any of the ideas, or better still, if you have an idea that isn’t listed; share it with us, the writing community.

When can you respond?

Please feel free to respond immediately with a comment on this post. The more information we can get out there from within our community, the better it will work for all of us.

Where will the information go?

On any social link you want to place it. Personally I use Facebook, Twitter and Google +, but there many more. It’s going to be a team effort.

Why should anyone take part?

We are a community of like-minded people, and it’s good to share. The ‘pooling’ of knowledge is a mutually beneficial thing to do.

How will it work?

That will depend on you; writer, reader, or blogger. This post will feature my own favourites, and then we’ll take it from there. My next posts will spell out why I find particular books so useful. Some reasons might not be obvious by looking at the book title. My links are different colours, to help distinguish the titles. The final three are not linked, because they depend on personal preference or locality.

What are my favourite reference books?

English Dictionary and Thesaurus, Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, The Writer’s abc Checklist, Zodiac Types, Baby Names, Love Writing, Body Language, Road Atlas (UK), World Atlas, Yellow Pages or equivalent phonebook.

Now, it’s your turn. Let me know your opinion, or suggest a book to add to our list. If you want to see how big we can make this thing – add a link to your own blog. If your idea is unique, or fits in with the theme, I’ll add it to my list on my website.

Thank you for reading and taking part!

27 thoughts on “Resource ideas for Writers

  1. i remember you mentioning your intention to write a post like this, and have been looking forward to it. It’s a great idea, and something I’ve been meaning to pursue myself so anything I can do to help let me know (I’ve actually got a ‘Resource for Writers’ page on my own personal website under construction). Other than that, it’s a great initiative, and I hope it really catches on!


    1. Hi Paul, thanks for checking in again mate. Yes, I’ve actually sent a similar short list out to a couple of writers I’ve mentored in the past, so I figured I’d see what the response was like.
      For now, what I’ll probably do is make a temporary page here on my blog (similar to your own, no doubt). I’ve already set up a page on my website with my top 12.
      If the project looks like it might become a monster, I have another idea that will need support from a couple of like-minded people, so I may well be in touch.


  2. Reblogged this on echoesofthepen and commented:
    I’ve reblogged this post as I genuinely believe it’s a great initiative and idea. As well as showcasing one’s own writing efforts, blogging is very much about helping and encouraging one another, and a relevant and well researched list of writer’s resources/books and so reallt appeals to me…


  3. I love this idea. For me, losing my reference of creativity over years of working in a clinic, raising children and making a home, my introduction to The Artist’s Way rekindled that flame of desire to write, draw, whatever inspired me! I will definitely share this post. Thank you!


    1. Thank you for sharing with a re-blog Cheryl. Together we are stronger, as they say. I’ve been over to your place to leave a message. Now following.


  4. Hi Tom,
    This is a really good idea. I’m a screenwriter, and have some suggestions for a core library of books on screenwriting that I’ve found useful. Many of them would be helpful for novelists too. They are:
    Story – Robert McKee
    The Writer’s Journey – Christopher Vogler
    Screenplay, the Foundations of Screenwriting – Syd Field
    Writing Dialogue for Scripts – Rib Davis
    Save the Cat – Blake Snyder
    Which Lie did I Tell? – William Goldman
    Making a Good Script Great – Linda Seger
    Writing for Emotional Impact – Karl Iglesias

    Good luck with the project!


    1. Thank you my friend. I’ve been over your way and left a comment. Now following. I’m cutting back to follow ‘serious’ writers/bloggers.


  5. Great idea.
    I like:
    In the Palm of Your Hand by Steve Kowit. Poetry
    A Creative Writing Handbook edited by Derek Neale
    The Five Minute Writer by Margret Geraghty
    Rhyming Dictionary published by Penguin
    The Chambers Dictionary
    The Chambers Thesaurus
    When I sort out how to reblog, I will.


    1. Thank you Penny. I’ve just been over your way and I’m now following. I’ve left you a comment, but to reiterate, I’ll be trying to pull together all the great feedback – like yours and Veronica’s. Till later …


  6. Pingback: Resource Ideas for Writers | pennyluker

  7. A few suggestions to add:

    The Chambers Dictionary 12th Edition: This is a superb reference, not just as a dictionary but for many obscure and middle English(Chaucer) and Shakespearian words. Also some great supplementary info on English spelling and thorough set of guidelines to dictionary usage.

    The Chambers Thesaurus 4th Edition: again, a superb reference for much the same reasons as above.

    The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook: Mainly of use to UK based writers but there is a wealth of articles and advice for writers in any part of the world

    The Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ yearbook: much like the above, but with special emphasis on those who write for the children’s and younger markets,

    The Penguin Dictionary of Modern Humorous Quotations: Great for anyone who wants to write comedy and humorous stories

    The New Penguin Dictionary of Quotations: another superb reference for those writing in all fields.


  8. Julia Lund

    Hi Tom. Like many others, I never write without a thesaurus at hand. I use Roget’s – my dad’s copy that he used to use when writing sermons (he was a Church of England Vicar). I also always have on my desk copies of the background reading I have done (for example, for my latest project, Jane Eyre – a heavily annotated copy – is a constant reference). I also have various versions of the bible (in both French and English) , which may sound strange, but I find it, whatever personal faith convictions, a superb source of imagery, inspiration and ideas. I have a copy of the Oxford English dictionary as well as a Collins Robert French dictionary; I often look a word up in the thesaurus and then explore further in French and then find an English word or phrase that has been eluding me. Beyond that, I read and read. And read. When something grabs me by the heart or the throat or just simply stops me in my tracks, I try to analyse just how the author has used language, punctuation, grammar, tense, sentence length etc etc to create their work. I also have a host of notes from an online course I did a few years ago with Lancaster University: ‘Writing Your Novel: Getting Started’ and then ‘Seeing it Through’. I have those printed off in a file and occasionally refer to them now, having digested them thoroughly over the years!


    1. Hi Julia. I’m pleased to see that you read, read, and read. I think one of the issues some novice writers have, is that they underestimate not only the importance of reading, but reading a wide variety of genre. I also believe we should read a few ‘unknown’ writers, because I know that having done it, I can see good, undiscovered scribes, and the pitfalls of those that think they are at a higher standard than they are. I’ll be writing a post along those lines soon.


  9. @hell4heather

    Hi Tom, I’d like to say how pleased I am to have stumbled across your site and also that my absolute favourite writer’s companion for the novelist is Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. I cannot recommend it highly enough – it helped me get my first novel finished after a friend recommended it to me when I’d gotten just halfway through my first draft and had a crisis of confidence which was stalling me. A must read 🙂


  10. Another good one for our list Heather. I bought ‘On Writing’ a couple of years ago, and I agree, it is a must read. The man is a genius. I actually know a writer who believes he has the job done in the first draft, or at least with very few amendments. Both of my novels went to at least four drafts, and my present one is about to be rewritten for the third time. Confidence is indeed key, and I think it grows as we learn to recognise our own issues within our writing.


  11. Marlayne

    I love Writer’s Digest, but there are a couple of excellent websites to assist tremendously as well. The Competitive Edge Level 2 question that I chose to respond to is: Which historical figure do you admire most and why? This is far more than a thesaurus or dictionary. It actually offers different words than thesaurus uses in Microsoft word. It ha Word Dynamo (how many words to you know?); References: writing skills test, free writing aptitude etc.; Quotes includes subtitles of: daily crosswords, word games, notable quotes by subject source and author. This is an assessment tool where you upload your work and run the test. This gives you a fitness level of: overall, verbs, nouns, prepositions, adjective/adverbs and it, this, that and there. These are all in different colors. Then it gives you an ‘overall’ assessment of Fit and trim, needs toning, flabby and heart attack territory. Then it shows your work with each area color coded to match the fitness level. It’s been extremely helpful to me.

    These are just a couple of my favorites, there are many more bookmarked to assist me.

    Thank you Tom, for writing this article. It was well presented and the opportunity to learn from others and their choices is a great learning tool.


    1. Hi Marlayne. Thank you for your support my friend. As you may have noticed, I’m taking part in the A – Z Challenge during April. I’m pleased with how it’s going, but it leaves me with a lot of work to try to respond to comments, new followers etc. I’ve just completed the penultimate draft of my latest thriller, so I’ll be leaving it aside until about 20th April before I go back to it.
      Thank you for the link. When I eventually get my ‘Resources’ page set up, I intend to list online separately from physical books. You’ll see it when it’s up and running.
      Take care, and keep on writing.


  12. Well, I am always inspired by Jeffrey Deaver and Dan Brown and I sit down to write some good thriller, but I guess it is not my cup of tea. I love reading Digital Fortress by Dan Brown and The Coffin Dancer by Jeffrey Deaver.


  13. Another book for the list, and one recommended to me by a previous poster on here, Veronica Haidar:

    ‘The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking The Poet within’ by Steve Fry

    In response to one of my posts, Veronica Haidar suggested I might want to take a look at the above book. From what little I’ve read so far, what I can still say it’s a very readable and enjoyable book, and explains even to a neanderthal novice like me the subtleties and intricacy of rhyme, metre, rhythm, and a host of other hitherto unknown aspects ,of poetry. Many thanks to Veronica too for the suggestion..


    1. It’s a first class book Paul, and if you concentrate you can hear Stephen Fry’s voice as you read. It will definitely give you a good grasp of poetry. I’m a big fan of rhyming couplets and alternating rhymes, as you well know.


      1. I’ll certainly be making some notes on it. Btw, thx for the reply on my post – I was expecting something a wee harsher. And congrats on the success of your AtoZ posts so far, am sure they will go from strength to strength…


Comments are closed.