The Writer’s Toolbox – A Few of My Favourite Things

Holiday shopping for a writer or editor? Or do you want to fill in your own wishlist (or find some new reading material for your holiday break)? These are a few of the editorial resources I’ve been obsessed with this year, both standbys that I couldn’t live without and newly discovered books with fun or innovative takes on language. You know you want them all!

Katherine Barber, Only In Canada, You Say: Word lovers and Canadians?and most especially word-loving Canadians?will have a blast reading through this quick tour of Canadianisms and expressions. As a Canadian married to an American, I’ve been amazed to discover just how many of our unique terms never made it south of the border.

As a side note, I had the pleasure of meeting Katherine at the Editing Goes Global conference this past summer. She’s quite gracious, and she knows her stuff?she’s the former editor of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary.

Rachel Funk Heller, The Writer’s Coloring Book: I met Rachel at the Writer’s Digest conference and got to see a demo of her book. “Coloring book” is a bit of a simplistic way to describe a book that uses color and design to help you map your story’s structure, plot, and characters. Whether or not you’re a visual person, you’ll appreciate the way it allows you to think through your story’s organization in a whole new way.

Bryan Garner, Garner’s Modern American Usage: Serious word nerds and editors need a copy of what we affectionately call Garner’s, but a caution: it’s easy to get lost in the intricacies of modern usage. Garner points out small differences and issues that even more experienced writers miss, but he also covers trends in modern language, explaining how formerly incorrect usage is now generally accepted.

Matthew Inman, The Oatmeal poster collection: Not books, but posters?and great ones (as long as crude language doesn’t offend you). The Oatmeal uses his offbeat sense of humor to tackle grammar and usage in a series of hilarious posters. I promise you’ll never misuse “literally” again!

Tony Preciado, Super Grammar: Yes, it’s a comic book about grammar. Yes, commas and exclamation points are costumed superheroes. But don’t laugh yet?this is one of the best basic grammar books I’ve come across, and I’ve seen a lot. It breaks down complex issues and explains grammatical concepts in a clear, accessible way. I recommend this one to all new authors regardless of age?and from time to time I consult it myself.

What are your favourite writing and/or editing resources? Send them my way, and perhaps they’ll become my new go-tos for 2016!

Christina M. Frey is a book editor, literary coach, and lover of great writing. For more tips and techniques for your toolbox, follow her on Twitter (@turntopage2) or visit her blog.

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