Tuesday, 28 January 2014

4 Fabulous Books for Writers

Today on Bookaholic we move away from reading fiction to books which will help you write fiction. Three of these books, I would say, are must have's for all writers. The other is a somewhat esoteric little book which is brilliant in it's difference.

The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Attributes by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

This is one in a trio of books which help authors to develop real and intense characters. Despite the title this book is so much more than just a mere thesaurus. It starts by introducing character development and the different traits which give them depth and humanity. This in itself is enough for this to be one of the best around, but it truly excels when it comes to the Thesaurus. There is an index of words which describe positive traits in your character. I have the ebook, so click on this word and it takes you to an in depth discussion in ways in which this can be used in your book. This includes a definition, categories for the word, similar attributes, possible causes for this attribute, associated behaviours that go with the attribute, associated thoughts the character might have, associated emotions, positive aspects, possible negative aspects of the attribute, examples from literature traits in supporting characters that may cause conflict and challenging scenarios for the character with this attribute.

As you can see from the above this is no one word attribute, but an in depth discussion which can assist with the development of lifelike characters. This book. Is outstanding. It covers everything you can think of and then some more. No author should ever be without this book. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Any new author needs to read this and have it at hand. Any established author will still find this useful.

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi 

This is the second in a trio of books which are, I feel, an essential part of any publishers toolkit. Like the Positive Trait Thesaurus the first few chapters cover the negative traits which will help the writer to develop a realistic character. It discusses how, characters, no matter how good or evil they are, need to display opposite traits which make the seem believable. There is an overview of the types of characters which are so deplorable that no one can identify with them and how these can be changed by the way ins which they are portrayed.

Following helpful and useful introductory chapters, the book becomes even more useful when the Thesaurus is used. This is more than your average Thesaurus, providing an in depth exploration of a word and its use in writing fiction. It provides a definition of the word, similar flaws, possible causes, associated behaviours and attitudes, associated thoughts, associated emotions, positive aspects, negative aspects, examples from film, overcoming this trait as a major flaw, and traits in supporting characters that cause conflict.

As a tool for writers this book cannot be faulted, and is in fact outstanding. This is a not to be missed book for all writers, whether new or established. Buy it now you will not regret it.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

This is the third book I have reviewed in this Trio of books which, I believe, are essential reading for all writers. Yis one follows the same format as the others in that it starts with a few chapters talking about the importance of emotion in developing characters which readers will love. This part is shorter in this book and the thesaurus part comes along more quickly.

The thesaurus is, yet again, in depth and fully comprehensive. Each word is looked at in different ways, including definition, physical signals of that emotion, internal sensations, mental responses, clues of actuate or long term adoration, cues of suppressed adoration (these last two are from the word adoration.)

There is enough in here for even the more experienced of writers and new writers will find this to be invaluable. Another one which I highly recommend.

The above three books are designed to be used together to develop well rounded characters. Individually they are outstanding. Together they form a formidable weapon in the writers arsenal. They can be used for both browsing for inspiration and as a genuine Thesaurus to find the right word choice for the way in which you want your character to be portrayed, so something for everyone here.

Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande

This is quintessentially pre WW2 in it's approach, having been first published in 1936. The writing will, therefore, seem quite dated to the modern reader. However, this gem is still full of good advice for us as writers today. This is not a book telling you how to write a bestseller, but one which encourages you to write in different ways and to use your innate talents as a writer. It talks about how to get yourself into the frame of mind for writing, using a lot of techniques that today we know as NLP. This is the only book I have come across which uses these techniques to develop as a writer and, as such it fascinates me. There are some very useful exercises in this book. I have used some of them and certainly intend to use others. These help the writer to look at themselves, and the world around them, in a different way. They help to focus your mind and get down to being the best writer you can be.

Although esoteric I would certainly recommend this book for anyone who is beginning their journey as a writer. However, I am sure most experienced writers would also find it to be of interest.

So, I am sure you will agree, that these books are worthwhile considering. See you all gain soon with another great review. What will it be? Who knows. I did promise you an eclectic bunch of reviews and I always did keep my promises. Until next time, keep reading.


  1. They sound really useful, Wendy. Thanks for bringing them to our attention. I bought the Brande books many years ago and you've made me want to read it again.

  2. They are excellent books Mary. The Brande book is definitely a keeper.