Monday, March 9, 2009

The Writer's Encyclopedia from the Editors of Writer's Digest

The Writer’s Encyclopedia © 1996 Writer’s Digest Books.

Another powerful tool that I refer to in my personal library is my Writer’s Encyclopedia. This five-hundred page reference is almost a glorified appendix that lists definitions, facts, and figures about every aspect pertaining to the writing craft and business.

The Writer’s Encyclopedia features over thirteen-hundred entries, a thorough bibliography, and a recommended reading list. Included are definitions of various writing terms and trade expressions and explanations of techniques and procedures—everything the aspiring writer needs to know in writing and publishing. For those writers with a mind for the future, marketing and contractual labels are addressed to include advertising, public relations, and broadcasting.

Selections are arranged alphabetically from common grammatical terms like “adjective” and writing jargon like “characterization” to more obscure concepts like “recto page,” a term which may give the reader pause—or, at the very least, prompt curiosity. Also incorporated into the discussion are the particulars of online publishing.

I found the boxed charts and tables especially helpful. The book contains more that sixty such figures which consist of “Fifty Common Usage Errors” that clarifies the contexts in which certain words are often misused. Imply and infer, for example. The speaker implies—the hearer infers. The age old lay/lie application issue is also explained in detail.

Other boxed information includes the unauthorized biography, legal and IRS documents, proof reading marks, and a list of fifty frequently misspelled words. The text contains examples of story boards, resumes, query letters, and various types of scripts. Publishing contracts, sales volumes, and royalty statements may clear up questions in the new (and maybe some of the more seasoned) writers minds.

I have found the Writer’s Encyclopedia to be a very helpful tool in my library. As I review it, I realized that it is one that I don’t use enough. I believe I’ll place it closer in reach for future reference.


  1. Boy, does that ever sound like an indispensable book for a writer. I have trouble with infer & imply myself. Good choice, Shirley.

  2. My to buy list is getting longer with the addition of this one to my list.


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