Tools and Techniques


Writers know that sometimes words jump onto the page and other times, we wonder:

What is the right expression to convey a specific feeling?

Is there a better verb to use instead of is or was?

What are the physical manifestations of disappointment?

How do I make my characters believable?

If the answers are not in the brain, they’re in a book or on the Internet somewhere. Writers need tools like every other professional. Of course, one needs to start with the basics: what the craft of writing is all about. There are plenty of books around that cover the foundational elements of writing. All good, but most do not answer the questions posed above.

For those times when your fingers are itching to find the right way to say something, reference materials can point the way to the answer. The Internet is a good resource but I find that nothing beats a good book that provide hundreds or thousands of solutions at the flick of a finger. My writing reference library grows yearly, and I keep on adding to it every time I come across a good volume.

For all of you writers out there, here are some of the better reference tomes from my library.


  • Oxford Dictionary of English, 3rd edition, Angus Stevenson
  • Canadian Oxford Dictionary, 2005, Katherine Barber
  • Oxford Thesaurus of English, 3rd edition, Maurice Waite
  • Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus, 3rd edition, Christine A. Lindberg
  • Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors, 2008, Bill Bryson
  • Random House Word Menu: New and Essential Companion to the Dictionary, 1996, Stephen Glazier
  • The Describer’s Dictionary: A Treasury of Terms and Literary Quotations, 2014, W.W. Norton and Company
  • Perfect English Grammar: The Indispensable guide to Excellent Writing and Speaking, 2016, Grant Barrett
  • Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective prose, 2013, Constance Hale
  • Getting the Words Right, 2005, Theodore A. Rees Cheney
  • The Writer’s Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characters, 2000, David Grambs
  • Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore, 2008, Elizabeth Lyon
  • Master Lists for Writers: Thesauruses, Plots, Characters, Traits, Names and More, 2015, Bryn Donovan
  • Character Reactions from Head to Toe, 2019, Valerie Howard
  • The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expressions, 2012, Angela Ackerman
  • Emotion Amplifiers, ebook, 2014, Angela Ackerman
  • The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: aAWriter’s Guide to Psychological Trauma, 2017, Angela Ackerman
  • The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes, 2013, Angela Ackerman
  • The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws, 2013, Angela Ackerman
  • The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to City Spaces, 2016, Angela Ackerman
  • The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Personal and Natural Places, 2016, Angela Ackerman


Internet Treasures

Need some tips on writing? Here are some helpful articles and websites from the internet to guide you: