Frequently Asked Question: What Writing Reference Books Do you Keep Handy?

There is a strong part of me that hopes that one of you out there will see my blogs or read my books and get bitten by the writing bug. If not the writing bug, then something creative. The world needs creative people, we need satire and criticism, we need something abstract to help us understand the world around us and process the situation at hand.

As a writer, I love answering questions about writing — let’s be honest: I love talking about writing, it’s addicting, and I couldn’t care less if there is a cure. Among social media channels, there is a popular question that is asked of writers and I wanted to share my answers with you.

The question: What writing reference books do I keep handy? In no particular order…

No. 1: “On Writing” by Stephen King – This book is worth twice as much as I paid for it. “On Writing” is half biography, half instructional lesson, and an entire tome of excellence. I read this book when I was beginning my writing journey and my only regret is that I didn’t read it sooner. Mr. King is a fascinating individual, his story is riveting, and his insight on the writing process is absolutely incredible.

No. 2: “How I Write” by Janet Evanovich – Ms. Evanovich took a life time’s worth of practical advice and put it together in a book. I first read it when I picked up a copy at my local library — it was so good that I had to buy my own copy, and I recommend that you do the same. The book doesn’t say much for grammar and usage, but just about everything else: building habits, the day in the life of a writer, and how to query your work to an agent or publisher. This book is a must-have in my opinion.

No. 3: “Anatomy of a Story” by John Truby – this book was recommended by Craytus Jones (I’m not sure if Craytus was recommending this book as much as I say they liked it and I picked it up), regardless, an incredible look into the theory and mechanics of how a story should be assembled. After reading that book, I truly understood how amateur my approach to writing really was.

No. 4: “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White – the most referency reference book that I keep at arms length. Let’s be completely honest with ourselves, the English Language is one of the most awkward communication methods on the planet. English is so tricky because of how many other languages that our language borrows from. Fiancee, a French word made right at home in the English lexicon — there are many other examples, but you get the idea. Sometimes, the proper usage of semicolons, em dashes, parentheticals, need to be clarified and that’s the book that I reach for.

No. 5: “100 Ways to Improve Your Writing” by Gary Provost – A super handy little pocket guide with some excellent suggestions in it. The truth is: I am going to be a student of the language until the day I die. There will never be a time when I’m not looking for a more masterful way of using English as a weapon to make you feel things. If I’m not looking to improve my writing, then what’s the point? That is the exact conversation that I had with myself as I was preparing to buy this book.

I hope I sparked some kind of creativity in you, made you want to write something! If so, please let me know!

Until your next trip across the Millerverse!

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