As I chronicle this writing journey of mine, I am trying to remember the little things that are making a big difference for me.
I keep a thesaurus right beside my computer. I am kickin’ it Old School and keep a real hand-held copy at the ready at. all. times. The computer has one – but I like leaving my words to rest on the screen, while I search for their companions. That way I can easily scan between the sentence on the screen and the options on the page.
Personally, I am not brave enough to delve into big words that I cannot spell and don’t really understand anyway, so with my Thesaurus I rarely need a dictionary. (Just ignore the ‘dictionary title’ part of this graphic – it was all I could find.)
As a child, I wrote a lot of (really bad) poetry. In poetry, you have to be concise. It’s best if the words you use portray exactly what you mean. So if you struggle with this concept, just try writing some poetry. Try describing something in five words or fewer without using the object’s name. Spoon for example – that sterling silver soup server . It’s not great writing – but you get the point, right?
And yes, sometimes, a simple spoon is simply a spoon and it’s perfectly fine to say that.
However, when you are writing a novel, you are going to have to express some ideas over and over again and it will be tempting to rely on familiar words. But that will get boring to your reader. A Thesaurus will help you make your writing more interesting.
But it will also help you pinpoint exactly what you are trying to say. Let’s just say that Sally is a detective and she has to walk into a lot of rooms to do her investigating. I am sure you can appreciate why you don’t always want to say, “Sally walked into a room.” Consider these options…..
Sally walked into the room.
(Sally is boring)
Sally danced into the room.
(Sally is graceful and probably happy. She might even have good news.)
Sally marched into the room.
(Sally has a purpose or is mad.)
Sally crawled into the room.
(Sally is a baby or doesn’t want anyone to see her. She is possibly hungover or sick.)
Sally tip-toed into the room.
(Sally is sneaky – I like Sally.)
Sally got tired of being an example and huffed out of the room.
(Sally is a brat.)
See the difference a word can make? What do you do when you get stuck on finding just what you are trying to say?