R … is for Resources

R[1] is for resources, which for me includes reference and reading. I’ve added the other two words because they are interconnected, and play their part in today’s topic.

What do I mean by resources?

This covers anything that assists us as writers. In some ways it’s unfortunate that in these times of the information super highway, when many people think of resources; it means the Internet. Rather than reach for one of those neat, tightly-packaged items – a book, a lot of folk are content to ask Google or some other search engine.

Yes, it takes a few keystrokes and virtually any subject can be traced. Likewise, when this is done, there are several sources. Without doubt, one of the main sources is Wikipedia, so we’ll take that as our example to prove a point.

What do we find in every Wikipedia entry?

In it’s simplest form, we find a disclaimer. The fact that the statement mentions words like ‘verification’ and ‘reliable resources’ doesn’t indicate that everything in the entry has them – it indicates something else. The information is verified up to a point, which means if you quoted it, you are putting a lot of trust in those who compiled it. Use it by all means, but cross-reference your information with at least one other source.

What do we find in an established reference book?

Apart from being there, (even when there is no electricity), we find the names of the author, or authors. Not far inside, we will find out what qualifies them to suggest they know anything about the topic. We will also see whether it is written as a credible reference, or it is simply an opinion piece in book format. Remember also, that these handy packs of organised paper are great for filling up a shelf beside your desk.

For me, the Internet sites serve to remind me, or point me in the right direction, or to give me a basic understanding. A book on the other hand normally carries with it a certifiable qualification alongside the author’s name, and that is important if I’m intending to use the information elsewhere.

Why is reading a resource?

The immediate answer to this is, that if we are writing creatively, then we should read. There are several reasons for this, and not least because the celebrated author Stephen King recommends it in his outstanding book, ‘On Writing’. Before I forget, if you haven’t got a copy – get one!

Reading helps to expose us to a variety of genre, authors, and styles. In my own case for example, in the past couple of months I’ve read: thriller, fantasy, romance, adventure, erotica and historical. I have many books on my shelves that have yet to be read, but I also have reference books that have paid for themselves many times over.

We can learn snippets of information by reading, even if it’s a short story, or somebody else’s blog or website. Okay, perhaps we will find information and want to chase up more sources to clarify it, but it might first have been found reading a competition entry. As I’ve tried to do throughout this A to Z Challenge, I’ve given examples, and this post has what might be considered a peculiar example.

A few months ago, I wanted to point out some of the basics of creative writing, so I wrote a short story to do it. The story is, ‘An Aspiring Writer’, and although I’m not an authority on the subject, the comments I’ve had, indicate that there are some credible points made. It was fun to write, but I did give it plenty of thought.

On my blog now is a new and expanding menu for the use of any visitor which contains resources for writers. If you have any suggestions, they are welcome, and will be accredited if used. Apart from that particular menu, my intention is to create a menu to feature all my ‘A to Z’ posts.

Once again, I thank you for reading and I’ll be back tomorrow with ‘S’.

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.

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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!