Let me begin with a quote that hit home.
I don’t know a writer that isn’t at least occasionally struck by paralyzing self-doubt. Personally, I tend to wallow in that mire. Nothing is good enough, sharp enough, concise enough. I write slower or longer or…
You know how it goes.
It’s easy to throw my hands up in the air in frustration and go sob into my favorite whiskey (Jameson’s, if you want to know.) Yet, if I did that, I’d never get anything done, so I attempt to meet a daily word goal. And sometimes, that’s the very problem–
It should be easy. I love words. I have thousands of words stuffed into my brain…until I write. Then they all flee from me and hide in the corner, snickering, and refusing to come when called.
Of course, I could search the intertubz for words, but that way lies hours of getting nothing accomplished, so I pinned a few lists on Pinterest, which helped. Then I printed them and tucked them in my writing journal next to notes for my current project. Before long, I noticed that my most used lists came from Bryn Donovan, so I gave a fellow author some love and ordered her book Master Lists for Writers.
This book is a fantastic, but not overwhelming, resource for those stuck on words or those who overuse certain words in texts. Authors should know their weaknesses and edit accordingly.
As you can see, my copy is well-worn and tabbed. I use “Descriptions of Facial Expressions” the most, which is why it has the upright tab. This section is further broken down into positive, neutral, and negative emotions. Phrases like “his eyebrow shot up,” “she gritted her teeth,” and “his face twisted” keep writers from falling into the telling instead of showing trap. I may not use them exactly as she outlines, but the lists give me food for thought.
Another favorite is “500 Great Words for Action Scenes.” It’s not that I don’t know such active verbs, but sometimes my brain pretends it doesn’t, and this jogs my memory. Even better, this book keeps me off of the internet and focusing on my page.
There’s so much more to this book than there might seem at first glance. There are plot ideas, lists of surnames, lists of names from different eras, character traits, and character motivations, all at my fingertips. This book usually sits next to my monitor within arms reach, lest I be tempted by the thought of “just a quick search” and three hours later, find myself watching cute puppy videos on YouTube .
I highly recommend you add this writing tool to your collection. I mean, another blank journal is nice, but for about the same cost, you can have a resource you’ll turn to over and over again.