My Favorite Resources:
I highly recommend the Institute for Excellence in Writing. The writing material, advice, and techniques are pricelessly good. Much of IEW’s material is in curriculum form, but there are some helpful articles on the website. This link takes you to the resource page. IEW also has a blog you can check out here.
Every writer needs a thorough thesaurus. Most of the time, I use two electronic ones–the one that comes with Word and the one that Apple uses. Both together usually generate enough alternative words. However. There are times when even these are not enough. When that is the case, I use Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus. It is the size of a dictionary and abounds with great words (in fact, “abounding” is under the word “full” in this thesaurus). You can find it on Amazon here, but it’s in many other places as well.
This resource page would not be complete if I didn’t try to sell you on Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language. It is replete with thorough, specific, and beneficial definitions for countless words–words that are out of date but still fun to say, as well as words still in use today. You can find it on Amazon here (and it gets five stars!), but many other places offer it as well.
A Few Great Books:
Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt is one of my favorite books. His writing is simple, powerful, real, and at the same time exceptionally humorous. He does a beautiful job of character development. He deals with heavy themes from the perspective of a kid growing up in the 60s. It is one of the funniest and most meaningful books I’ve read.
Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff is another excellent one. It is also told from a child’s perspective–a little girl stuck in the foster system. It is sweetly sad, but beautiful and very well written.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas Pierre is amazing. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. It is a monster to tackle (being extremely long and quite involved), but it is so worth it. The amount of detail, the volume of character backstories, and the emotions portrayed make this novel an incredible read. It is recommended (by my mom) to keep a list of the characters you meet along the way so that when they pop up again much later, you can refer to your list and not be completely lost! I still have mine, so if you’d like to just use that, email me and I’ll send you a copy.