Authors use the Internet, resource books, movies, and their own experiences as tools when writing novels. An author’s tools are invaluable. I thought I’d mention more books that I use which sit on my writing table.
The book I use for every novel is Roget’s Thesaurus. You need a print copy of this book, so you can rapidly scan in the options given. It is like a dictionary, but instead of definitions, it gives synonyms and related words.
The second half of the Thesaurus is an alphabetic index which you use to look up the word close to what you want. For example, you have used the word “walk” several times in a paragraph. That becomes annoying to the reader and will pull her out of the story. Looking up the word “walk” in the index in the Thesaurus gives you many nouns and verbs in different categories, such as route, gait, path, domineer, win easy…
You choose what category you are using, and go to it. These are numbered, rather than alphabetical. Going to the number for gait (273.14), I find gait, pace, walk, step, stride… up to 42 different words meaning gait. And under the generic number for travel which includes walk, I find 16 subcategories for nouns and 26 subcategories for verbs, including march and glide and creep. I can always find enough words to keep my words from being repetitious. The Thesaurus included on computer programs just doesn’t work as well.
More Author’s Tools
I also use an old English grammar book to check my use of lie and lay, which has given me problems all my life, since I use them interchangeably when I talk.
Another text is Getting the Words Right—How to Rewrite, Edit, and Revise, by Theodore Cheney. This book is very helpful. For example, in each sentence and in each paragraph there is a main point. This book helps you spot those points and determine where you want to put them. Maybe at the start of the sentence or the end of the paragraph.
Then there are the writer’s guides. Here are my favorites: Writing Novels That Sell by Jack Bickham, Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain, Heroes and Heroines by Cowden, LaFever, and Viders.
Story by Robert McKee. I attended a two-day intensive course by Mr. McKee that followed his book word by word. By buying his book I have the transcript, and re-read it now and then to better understand the elements of story. This is a classic that I feel every writer should read.
I am now working on another Cozy Mystery, this time titled: “Any Lucky Dog Can Find a Missing Child.” It is in pre-order form in the Authors’ Billboard Set, Murder is Scheduled for Monday.
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A USA Today bestselling author, Nancy Radke grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in SE Washinton State. She attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade. She learned to ride bareback at age 3 (Really! It was a common practice.) and when she got off or fell off, she would pull her horse’s nose to the ground, get on behind its ears, and the horse would lift its head so she could scoot down onto its back. Nancy spent most of her childhood exploring the Blue Mountain trails that bordered the ranchlands. She and a friend once took a trail that turned out to be a two day trip. They always rode with matches and pocket knives, so made camp and returned the next day. These long rides worried her parents, but provided plenty of time to make up stories. Her first novel was set in the Blues, and is entitled APPALOOSA BLUES. TURNAGAIN LOVE was the first one published. It rated a four star review from Affaire de Coeur. Scribes World said “Turnagain Love has some fascinating twists and turns, unexpected complications, and charming scenes.” It is light and humorous. Nancy currently has over 30 books written, both modern and western. All her stories are sweet and wholesome.