Monday, May 11, 2009

Collecting Resources

As a writer, I have a great obsession: resources and resource books. I have to have them, no matter how obscure, no matter if I already know I will never use them. And, on that last note, I'm almost always wrong!

While the thesaurus should be your best friend (it certainly is mine) and a dictionary is almost as necessary as your computer, both of these are available online; while I strongly suggest it anyway, you do not have to have a hardcopy of either a dictionary nor a thesaurus. But there are a ton of instances in which your basic, written resources fall short. This is where a fine collection of resource materials come in handy.

Descriptionary: A Thematic Dictionary by Marc McCutcheon is probably the handiest reference guide I own, even though I've not used it half as much as I thought I would when I decided to purchase it. Still, I have used it enough that it has paid for itself, which is something I can't say for all the resources I own.

I have two books concerning the Mafia - Mobspeak: The Dictionary of Crime Terms and another, which escapes me presently but concerns the actual history, stories, accounts, and more of the mob throughout American history. At various times, I have included the Mafia and Mafia figures in stories, even though I knew only as much about the matter as I'd learned from movies like Goodfellas. Mind you, you can learn a lot from Goodfellas, but having authoritative references available to better guide and educate you is necessary for writers.

I also have The Writer's Complete Crime Reference Book for the other side of that coin. And though I have never used either extensively, having both handy makes all the difference in my writing, as they make me more confident when handling the subjects.

All it takes is one inconsistency, a single factual error, for knowledgeable readers to assume you do not know what you're talking about and lose all interest. It doesn't matter how good the writing is, nor how exciting the story - if your work contains even one incorrect fact or mishandling, you will lose credibility, you will lose readers.

Actually, I have an entire shelf full of reference materials, many of which are quite specific, but those listed above are enough to get you started (and hopefully commenting). I will save the rest for another post, as well as the numerous online resources I've collected over the years.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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