elements of style

All posts tagged elements of style

Resources

Published April 13, 2014 by ellarite

Writers need a supply of resources that allow them to enhance their stories. Stephen King, my personal icon, suggests that

“Writers build a metaphorical toolbox.  The top of the toolbox should hold important items like vocabulary and grammar, while other portions contain items such as elements of style.”  (King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, 114 – 129)

The toolbox analogy is too confusing for me. Don’t laugh. I’ve accepted my limitations. My mind won’t equate a screwdriver for a verb or a hammer with an adjective.

My resources appear as a metal filing cabinet.

I’ve held various administrative jobs, so the analogy is perfect for me. A file cabinet contains information, divided into headings and subheadings. The information stays ready for retrieval at a moments’ notice.

What resource do writers need?

A tricky question, but at the very least all writers should have a dictionary, a thesaurus and a quick reference guide. My reference guide contain info like ‘grammar basics’, ‘commonly misspelled words’ and the various forms of documentation (APA, CM, CSE, etc.)

Each writer should obtain references based on their needs. I like ‘all things scary’, so I tend to lurk around the Horror Writers’ websites. I print nuggets of info and file it away for later.

Where to find resources?

Everywhere and nowhere, how’s that for simplicity? Finding the resource that is helpful to your personal style of writing can feel like a separate journey. Here’s how I obtains some of my resources:

1. “Element of Style” by Strunk and White: printed from internet.
2. “The Writer’s Compass” by Nancy Ellen Dodd: purchased from Barnes and Noble.
3. “The Writer’s Chronicle” (magazine from the AWP-Association of Writers and Writing Programs): receive monthly from writing group.

My cabinet is full of tidbits that I’ve collected and filed through my journey. I have documentation of Carl Jung’s 16 Personality Types to Constance Hale’s New York Times column entitled “Make-or-Break Verbs” (http://opinionator.globs.nytimes.com/2012/04/16/make-or-break…, retrieved 23Apr2013).

I seek resources which provide
knowledge and enhance my craft.

We won’t talk about the third drawer in my cabinet. It’s haunted. That’s where I place my story ideas. The screams of half-finished characters fill the room whenever I approach my desk.

I’m thankful to Stephen King for sharing his knowledge. In fact, his book “On Writing” is my most valuable resource. One may not think so if they’ve seen my dog-eared copy with highlighter graffiti, marginal doodles and broken spine.

I’m sure he’ll understand. It’s how I show my love.

What resources make you a better writer?

Until next week,

Ella