I hate to admit this, but I rarely get an original idea. That’s bad for a writer.
However, I’ve got lots of paperback friends who help me sound smarter. They’re the seven reference texts I keep on top of my desk. Here they are, and why each one means so much to me.
1. Dictionary – And old teacher once told me, “If you don’t know the meaning, look it up. " Sound advice. My desk copy is “Webster’s New World Dictionary. "
2. Thesaurus – I’m always looking for a different way to say things, and this text helps me a lot. It’s called “Roget’s College Thesaurus. "
3. Idiom reference – People often use a common idiom or cliché’ to clarify what they say. I keep the “Scholastic Dictionary of Idioms" next to my keyboard.
4. Dictionary of synonyms – The one I use is “The Merriam-Webster Pocket Dictionary of Synonyms. "
5. Encyclopedia – To quickly find details on historical figures or products, I consult a great single volume paperback called “The New American Desk Encyclopedia. "
6. Quotations – A quote from an expert can add impact to a speech or report. The book I use is “The International Thesaurus of Quotations" by Rhoda Thomas Tripp.
7. Idea generator – Well, this sounds self-serving, but I often use my own book to give me ideas for first paragraphs, transitional sentences, and conclusions. That book is “Words That Stick" by Rix Quinn.
Rix Quinn writes a weekly syndicated humor column, and develops writing workshops for schools, colleges, and business groups. His book “Words That Stick" is available from http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1580085768/qid/