Friday, September 4, 2009

Stalwart (And Quiet) Friends

When I write, I make sure I've got three stalwart friends sitting next to me.

  • Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
  • The Chicago Manual of Style
  • Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus

(On the bookshelf behind me, I've got tons of other reference books, including The Best, Worst & Most Unusual, The Dictionary of Clichés, What Happened When, and dozens of other little oddities. I rarely consult them.)

What books do you need at an arm's reach (thanks, Dictionary of Clichés!) when you write?

(A side note -- Last night, I had a nutty dream starring Friend of the Blog (FOB) Jack Regan (in a supporting role), taking place at some kind of book festival. Here's our exchange:

ME: Hey, guess who's my favorite baseball player of all-time?
FOB Jack: (shrug)
ME: Books Robinson
FOB Jack: (snort)

I hope I’m funnier when I’m awake.)



Patricia Stoltey said...

Well, you were pretty clever in your comment at my blog this morning.

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Serious counseling is in order…and immediately…if Jack is the star, co-star, participant, or even peripherally mentioned in your dreams. I mean, think about it: of all the people in the world, your subconscious comes up with Jack? All your friends, need to rally ‘round and support you in this time of crisis…a six pack should take care of the three of us.

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Elspeth Futcher said...

Alan, In my opinion you're a pretty clever guy now. I wouldn't want pit my wit against yours. My silent companions are "The Word Finder" and 2 thesauruses that I've had since high school. I use online dictionaries.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I keep the thesaurus and dictionary up online at all times. Printed reference I've enjoyed include "How to Write Killer Fiction," "Don't Murder Your Mystery," "Elements of Mystery Fiction," and "Telling Lies for Fun and Profit."

And you're PLENTY witty. Any more so and you'd be the ruination of us all...

Mystery Writing is Murder

Alan Orloff said...

Patricia - Thank you. Good luck on your 10K! I'm with you in spirit, if not in writing.

Galen - I know. Seeing Jack in my dreams put me off kilter the rest of the day. I hope I can recover.

Elspeth - I love thesauri. Gotta be careful, though. Too many fancy words spoils the, uh, broth.

Elizabeth - Sometimes I use an online dictionary, but it leaves me somewhat unsatisfied. I've been meaning to get a copy of "Telling Lies..." I need to do that.

Craig Hart said...

Awww, I'm in your dreams! I'd be honored if I wasn't so creeped out. Or maybe it's that I'd be creeped out if I wasn't so honored...uh...

Anyway, save some of that six pack for me, because now that you've opened the door of your subconscious to me, there's no escape.

Levi Montgomery said...

I finally had to retire my Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, due to wear, and I'm not too happy with the upstart young whippersnapper that replaced it (The New Oxford American), but the other two are the same as you listed.

And to those who complain about thesauri "fancifying" your writing, I have this to say: that's not what they're for. They're for that all-too-often occurrence when you know the right word, and you can't think of it. Never ever ever use a thesaurus just because you think you're overusing a word, because I guarantee you it won't help. The only help for that is more reading.

Read. Write. Repeat.

Alan Orloff said...

Jack - You feel creeped out? How do you think I feel!?

Levi - Your assertion is undeniable about a thesaurus yielding florid and supercilious words that some unmeasurable segment of the hoi polloi believe are wondrous.

I just use the thesaurus to try to make my words and sentences more better.

Thanks for visiting the blog!