Books to Love: Writing Resource Must Haves


If there’s one thing that writers love, it’s books. Regardless of what genre we find ourselves in, we writers need our books. We need the pleasure reading books to help us relax and, if we’re fortunate to have impeccable taste in writers, hone our skills at the same time. We need our research books to help us bone up on the topic we’re writing about. Yes, even those of us who specialize in fiction need to do research for we know that it enriches our writing. And, we need our resource books. Today I’m sharing with you a few writer’s resources that I have in my collection that have helped me immensely in my writing journey, particularly where the golden writing rule is concerned: Show, Don’t Tell.


Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman are two women who believe in writers helping writers. Both are writing coaches and international speakers, and together they have collaborated to bring several books into the hands of struggling writers. Their first offering was The Emotion Thesaurus.

They compiled a list of varying emotions that are rather common. Each emotion is an entry and accompanying the entry are physical and psychological reactions that people experiencing that specific emotion exhibit. For example, the first emotion is adoration. How does one exhibit adoration outwardly? Puglisi and Ackerman suggest that a person’s lips might part, as though in awe of what they are witnessing. That’s one of the physical responses they catalog. Then there’s the psychological responses for someone experiencing adoration, such as a person’s desire to move closer or touch the person or thing they are revering. The thesaurus entry expounds more to include long term effects or effects of someone suppressing their natural response of adoration.


The reason that I find this resource so valuable is that it gets my juices flowing. Often times, I will grab it, read through an entry, and by the end, have come up with an idea that’s not even cataloged there in the thesaurus. That’s what a great resource should do. It should pull on what you have within you and bring it out. A word of caution, though; like a regular thesaurus, you cannot use this a primary resource. It is only there to augment your thought process.

If The Emotion Thesaurus, which has recently been expanded, piques your curiosity, Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman have an array of other resources available, from their Positive Traits and Negative Traits Thesauruses, to their Rural Setting and Urban Setting Thesauruses.

In descriptions of Nature one must seize on small details, grouping them so that when the reader closes his eyes he gets a picture. For instance, you’ll have a moonlit night if you write that on the mill dam a piece of glass from a broken bottle glittered like a bright little star, and that the black shadow of a dog or a wolf rolled past like a ball.
— Anton Chekhov

There’s so much I really appreciate about this book. It might be the one reference book that I grab for, even when I don’t need it. It’s actually quite wonderful to read. Particularly the quotations they include. Unlike The Emotion Thesaurus, which focuses on the intangible, the descriptions cataloged in this dictionary are observable descriptors. This resource focuses what we can see and touch in the world around us. And, it’s remarkably comprehensive, with topics ranging from architecture to a person’s physicality to color schematics and shapes. The Describer’s Dictionary spans the gamut.

For example, if you’re writing an adventure story about hikers in the mountains of Scandinavia, you would be able to go to the Terrain and Landscape section of this book and discover that the chasm formed by receding ice is called a randkluft. That sort of specific detailing in your description will augment the reader’s response to your work. It says, this author has done their homework and I appreciate that.


What I appreciate the most about this book, though, is that it includes examples of fantastic descriptions from some of the most renowned authors to ever be published. So, even if you’re stumped as to the appropriate way to describe someone’s eyes, and the words suggested in the dictionary aren’t really quickening your mind to action, you’re afforded numerous descriptive quotes of how some of the greats interwove descriptions of eyes into their writing in unique ways. More often than not, reading through those quotes had been the catalyst I’ve needed to spur me to action in my writing.

Honorable Mentions:

The Facts on File Dictionary of Classical, Biblical, and Literary Allusions

As you might recall, I really love literary allusions- just check out these previous posts here, here, and here to see some fabulous allusions I’ve come across in my reading. To make literary allusions work, you really need to be well versed with literature. But since we can’t all have our noses buried in weighty tomes, Abraham Harold Lass, David Kiremidjian, and Ruth M. Goldstein have done the great service of compiling this dictionary of some of the allusions we should all be familiar with in order to enjoy our reading more fully. This is a fun and informative read. It’s not heavy at all, and by the end of it, you’ll have a host of allusions you can trot out at your next cocktail party to help you appear more erudite and sophisticated.

Let’s Bring Back the Lost Language

While this isn’t necessarily a writer’s resource, if you tend toward historical fiction, this little book by Leslie M. M. Blume might be of immense help to you. Colloqualisms change with the wind, and what this book does is remind us of some of the lost colloquialism as well as some of the ones that still pepper our conversations today. If nothing else, this is a fun read to see the evolution of our language and how quickly it catapults from one trend to another.

Now, you’ve seen my favorites where writing resources are concerned. What are yours?