Monday, May 13, 2013

Just the answer I need

What reference work (dictionary, thesaurus, style guide) is essential to your writing?

by Meredith Cole

When I started my first book, I carefully collected a dictionary, a thesaurus, a baby naming book and various writing and formatting books and lined them up on my bookshelf. I also added our giant French/English dictionary because it looked weighty and important. I was a writer and I needed to show the world I was serious about my craft.

So when do I crack open and consult all these tomes during my writing process? Uh, almost never. I think I've opened the baby naming book once or twice. I get to that point in the story where I realize that all my secondary characters have names starting with the letter "P" and I need to fix it right away. But I find baby naming websites much faster and easier to use (quick--what's a Lebanese boys name that starts with an "R"?).

But the dictionary and thesaurus have gathered some serious dust over the years as I've grown to want the instant gratification (and the immediate results) from online sites. If I can't remember how to spell something, Google will sometimes even help me out by suggesting the correct spelling. I find this so helpful that I manage to suppress my uneasiness about how much information Google is collecting about me. It's also great not to have to leave my computer and interrupt my writing flow since I write often somewhere other then my desk in my office.

I just had to go out and buy a new bookshelf so I could pick up all the novels piled onto my floor (reading for contests creates quite a lot of clutter!). Perhaps it's time to get rid of the dictionary and thesaurus and make some more shelf space. But then I think--maybe the Internet will go down and I'll need to know something right away! So I keep them and tell myself I'll crack them open again one of these days...

3 comments:

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I love my baby naming book and use it frequently! But you're right, the name sites online are quicker.

Sally Carpenter said...

My thesarus gets a workout. The name book is crucial when I'm creating characters. I find the low-tech paper books are more efficient and faster than waiting for a web page to load up. Also with the books, I don't get those annoying ads!

Meredith Cole said...

If the power ever goes out--I'm ready Sally! Still haven't parted with the paper versions...