The Most Important Book on a Writer’s Shelf

The most tattered and worn reference book on my shelf is The Synonym Finder, by J. I. Rodale. It claims to be the largest, most comprehensive thesaurus in print. I don’t know about that, but I do know that this book is my most helpful writing tool. When I’ve used the same word twice in a paragraph and I need to find a new way to say the same thing, I go to The Synonym Finder. The word dagger, for instance, has almost 30 alternatives. Looking for a title? The Synonym Finder can help you find one. Just look up a frequently used word in your text and see if there might be a clever alternative. Can’t think of how to spell a word? Not sure what a word means? Want a more active verb to describe your character’s actions? I use this book for...

Read More

What Changes in Your Memoir?

A well-told story always involves change—the main character is lost and unable to function in the world and, as the book proceeds, he finds his way through the maze of life to a new understanding of what it means to be a citizen of our world. Memoir is no exception to this rule of change. Even in the shortest of stories, something must be different at the end. A new understanding is gained, a new self-assurance is found, a new way of looking at a situation is created. When writing your own story, look for the growth stages in your life. How did you manage to raise children, work full-time and volunteer for a cause every week? How did you survive after the death of a spouse? How did you work your way through depression into a brighter world? Look for the...

Read More