Monday, August 03, 2015

Some Go-To Books For Writers

I thought I'd share a few of my go-to books for my post this month.

As a sometimes historical writer- I have written several 20th century set historicals as well as some Regencies- I'd  be lost without my etymology dictionaries. It's of vital importance that the right words be used for the time period of the story. If you have a medieval maid falling and scraping her hand on the rocks saying, when asked how she is, "I'm okay."  that really would pull the reader out of the story, wouldn't it?

I have a etymology dictionary that sits beside me as I work on historicals and I also use the online one extensively. Here's a link to that one. 

Another great book that I use is a slang dictionary. It's a good resource for figuring out what things were said during what time periods. One thing I wish someone would come up with is a dictionary like this that starts with the year and then lists all the slang for each era. The dictionary I own (and the only kind I've seen) has the slang terms organized by the term so, for example, if you want to know when "the bee's knees" was said, you can look that phrase up with no problem but say you wanted to know what people said in the 1920s that equated with say, "groovy"- you couldn't just go to a list of slang from the 1920s and check them out (there are some websites that do this in a way). So,  it's helpful in a way but not helpful in another. But it is very fun to read through.

I also have a Dictionary of Idioms. You know, in case I need to know if a character can have "a chip on his shoulder" or is "sick as a dog" or maybe even "high as a kite."

And one other fun book I have that is out of print but can be found online is the Character Naming Sourcebook. It's a wonderful book by Sherrilyn Kenyon, of all people. :)  It has lists of first and last names and where they are from (country of origin) as well as the meanings. I love it because, to me, the name of the character can tell us so very much about them.  I have had two heroines with the wrong name and the stories progressed slowly and sluggishly at first but as soon as I found the right names for them, the stories took off and moved forward.

What about you? Any go-to books you love?


Aidee Ladnier said...

What a great list of books! I never think about slang or idioms but improper usage in historicals could definitely result in a reader being thrown right out of the story. I must go and increase my reference collection.

Jillian said...

thanks Aidee. It definitely is a thing that throws me out of a story so I try hard not to do that to my readers. LOL - go forth and shop. HEHEH.

Carla Swafford said...

I use Sherrilyn's book all the time. Grammar for Dummies is one of my favorites. HA!!

Jillian said...

ahh, another good choice, Carla. LOL. Isn't Sherrilyn's book awesome?