A Book Review: Why Writers Need “Master Lists for Writers”

lists for writers

Recently, I stumbled upon another author’s blog. Bryn Donovan is a romance writer, and I did not know about her until a few weeks ago when I found myself stuck with words during my own novel-writing session. For those who don’t know, I have been working on my second novel and I just hit page 200, so losing words this far into the game was not something I wanted to deal with. I wanted to keep writing. So, after researching how to illustrate a specific emotional description, I came across Donovan’s blog. And from her blog, I was led to her book Master Lists for Writers: Thesauruses, Plots, Character Traits, Names, and More.

Why This Book Is Helpful

Not all writers struggle in the same areas. For that reason, this reference book might not be for everyone. For me, however, it was exactly what I needed to continue writing without disrupting my creative flow.

For some of us writers, writing is the most difficult job in the world, not because we do not know how to write but because we are too critical of each word we put on paper. Thomas Mann summed this up in his quote: “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” So, it is not a surprise that words can just vanish from our heads at the exact moment we need them most. I often find myself searching for a word that is on the tip of my tongue without being able to recall that word. I end up having to find that word through its synonyms. And usually, its synonyms are slightly off from the specific image I want to portray, which drives me mad until I discover the word.

lists for writersDonovan’s book focuses on moments like these, breaking down different words, descriptions, phrases, and more into categories so that writers can quickly jump to the right section, find the word they need (or something similar), and go back to writing.

Of course, the lists in this book are by no means complete (this is not an encyclopedia for writers). In fact, Donovan mentions early on that these lists are meant to help writers find what they are looking for if they are stuck in thought, but those lists might also help the writer come up with a better word for his/her book or lead the writer to research further for other words.

lists for writersThe way I have used this book so far goes something like this: I am writing and get stuck rummaging through my head for the right word, I jump to Master Lists for Writers and find the list that most fits what I am looking for (like the list “50 Actions that Show Animosity” or the list “Physical Descriptions”), and I glance quickly through the list. Most of the time, I find exactly what my brain forgot in that moment, and if that’s not the case, I do an Internet search using a synonym until I find the right word.

What This Book is Missing

While I think this book is great, I do wish it included more lists, such as “Architectural Descriptions.” The more lists the quicker writing becomes. Still, it is impossible to fill a book with never-ending lists, which is why I am fine with the quantity of lists found in this book. Though this book has its limit, it is certainly jam-packed with great descriptions, phrases, and even ideas for the story you are writing.

Why I’m Recommending This Book for Writers Like Me

In my opinion, this book is fantastic for that quick remembrance process, especially if you do not want to waste time reading page after page of Internet sites describing what you are looking for. If you are the type of writer who does not randomly have writer’s block for specific words, then this book isn’t for you. Though, if you are like me in this sense, then this book can make your life a whole lot easier and help you continue writing.

Be sure to check out Donovan’s blog by clicking here. You can also find Donovan’s book Master Lists for Writers below:

Looking for something new to read? Check out my book Dance with the Devil. You can read the first few chapters right here:


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