Books on writing – you walk into the bookstore and there sit shelves and shelves of books, all promising to make you a better writer. Sitting for hours on the floor of the bookstore, you feel like you are accomplishing something as you peruse the content of book after book. Then you decide on one or two and as you pay for them, a warm feeling washes over you. This book will be the one that works. This book will provide you with the secrets you need to succeed.

Weeks go by and you have yet to finish reading the book, or finish much of anything else. Slowly you begin to realize that this book was not the cure to your writer’s block. It did not provide you with the secret to quitting work so that you could find the time to write. It did little more than provide you with a couple weeks worth of a false sense of accomplishment.

Not all writing books, though, are created equal. For Christmas, I got a new writing book. Whereas the others were how-to writing books full of inspirational stories and writing prompts, this one is nothing more than a reference. As an aspiring children’s book writer (grades 5/6), I felt that Mogilner & Mogilner’s Children’s Writer’s Word Book, 2e would be different than the other books. This book does not claim to provide some secret to success. Rather, it is a thesarus set up to help writers choose appropriate words for young audiences. Writing for adults, any word that naturally comes to my mind should be at the appropriate reading level. Writing for children, though, its hard to say. Looking back on my childhood, I like to think that I knew all the words then that I know now. But deep down, I know that this is not the case.

This book also provides information about what subjects children learn in school at various ages. I must say I was extremely relieved to see that environmentalism (the underlying theme of my novel), was cited not only as one of the big topics from 5th grade on, but also as a topic that will continue to be published for years to come.

In addition to this book, I have also found Karen Weisner’s First Draft in 30 Days to be equally useful. While I have always resisted outlining, her outlining techniques have really helped me to work out some tricky plot points, such as how to end my novel and who the protagonist will be. I was also able to work in some really good subplots. Now all I have to do is sit down and turn those outlines into stellar prose!

Books on writing may be the procrastinator’s best friend, but there are a few gems out there that can really aid one’s writing.