Happy June, Writers!
This month has been huge for me in the way of craft. In the midst of my revision, I decided to take some dedicated time to focus on a few of my weaker areas in terms of craft. These were areas I had identified during my read-through or areas in which I simply lacked confidence.
I decided for this month's blog hop to share my list of resources that have been helping me these past couple of months with the hope that they will prove useful to some other writers out there.
The Rural Setting Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglish
The Urban Setting Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglish
What's so great about them: Written in incredible detail, these two books showcase a vast majority of possible setting locations throughout your novel. It pinpoints the exact sights, smells, sounds, tastes, textures, sources of potential conflict, and more.
Let's say that one of your scenes takes place at a house party. The Rural Setting Thesaurus offers vivid descriptions that you can incorporate into your scene to root the reader into your story. Details include: steady traffic to the fridge, broken picture frames that have been knocked over, people forming a line to the bathroom, a blasting stereo, the smell of beer breath, sweat, and salty chips.
If you're someone like me who struggles a bit to describe setting in colorful detail, then these books will definitely help. If you're not sure about making the investment just yet, check out their samples on their website
#2 Style/Word Choice
Sizzling Style: Every Word Matters by William Bernhardt
What's so great about it: This book put a name to the feeling that had been nagging me during my read-through. Though I knew that my last round of edits tightened my novel structurally, I couldn't figure out why it read so amateurish.
After reading this book I was greatly encouraged. Though perhaps obvious to some, no one had ever told me in such plain language that simply focusing on word choice could drastically improve my writing style.
If you haven't read any of his work, William Bernhardt has a whole series of these books. They are very short and easy read if you don't have a lot of time devoted to books on craft. I also have to mention his podcast that I have found fun and educational, called Red Sneaker Writers
. If you're new to podcasts, or just looking for new ones to add to your list, definitely have a listen. Bernhardt interviews writers of various genres and offers loads of industry news and insight based on his impressive body of work as a published author.
The Writer's Lexicon (Volumes I & II) by Kathy Steinemann
What's so great about it: If you're on the hunt for word replacements or scratching your head trying to decide how to start improving your style, I highly recommend checking out Kathy Steinemann's website. On it, she posts numerous "cheat sheets" on word alternatives for commonly overused words. She published the entire series in her Writer's Lexicon Volumes I & II. I've linked the second volume, as it's the only one I currently own.
I recommend checking out some of her lists online and purchase the books if you find them helpful and want to keep a reference close at hand. Here are a couple examples of the word lists on her website:
The Mental Game of Writing by James Scott Bell
I've long been a fan of James Scott Bell's books on writing and picked up this one awhile back during one of my writing-book hauls. It took me awhile to get to it, though I think the timing worked out perfectly as beating my head against the wall during revisions had primed my brain for some writing advice. :)
What's so great about it:
This book covers pretty much any and all mental processes that occur in the writer's mind from fear, to envy, to growth and the need for validation. It's a quick, easy read. Bell offers tips to overcome negative mental habits, plus advice for nurturing more positive ones. I walked away with several tips that I have already begun incorporating into my routine.
Aside from writing style, the biggest lesson I've learned of the course of my current revision is not to overload your brain. This revelation came to me while watching Author/Youtuber Alexa Donne's video on revision
. One of the points she makes in the video really got my attention: that there is more than one way to approach your revision. Imagine that!
I had been looking at my revision as one big monster task and as a result, my brain kept looking for tricky ways to avoid it altogether. I learned that I needed to break up the monster task into tiny, bite-sized pieces that weren't so scary.
The second lesson I learned was to acknowledge that the revision process is sloooow. This meant re-framing my expectations and project timeline. There's a reason why people advise you to "pound it out" during your rough draft, because what comes next is the tedious, often mind-numbing process of analyzing your work, page by page. Word by word.
If you're just beginning your revision process and looking for a great place to start, Susan Dennard's Guide to Revisions is one of Alexa Donne's recommendations. Susan offers an incredibly in-depth and thorough explanation of common issues that writers face. She also offers free worksheets that I have found extremely helpful. Check out her For Writers
page for a full list of her incredible freebies.
Additional Resources I've Been Using
These are all of the incredible words of wisdom that I've been loving lately. I really hope they find their way to another writer out there who is in need of a little encouragement. Because writing is hard.
Thanks so much for stopping by! Check out the other amazing bloggers of the Author Toolbox Blog Hop. Link below: