Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Writing Wednesday: Use Your Thesaurus!...

Please, for the love of all that is good and pure in this world, use your Thesaurus.

For those of you that think it is a type of dinosaur, walk away now.

All right. So why would I tell you to use your Thesaurus when most of my own, personal posts leave you lacking literary sparkle and whimsical words of enlivenment?

Because I try not to overuse words so much in my writing. I have, in my opinion, come a long way and have worked hard on my skills. Maybe not here, on my blog, but this is the only place where I feel like my "true voice" can be used. Not my Professional Writing Voice.

When you're writing, you don't always see the repetition of your words until later. Even after edits. You know what you're trying to say and how you want to say it, you know what you're talking about. You can see every image in your head. All the details are there. That leather pouch is sitting on the floor, slumped over like a drunk in an alley. However, as you describe that pouch, you keep using the word pouch over and over again. Even twice in one sentence. When you send your manuscript off for editing, sometimes the repetition of the word pouch gets lost for whatever reason. You publish your book and then your reviews start harping on how much you used the word 'pouch'.

Now, you feel like maybe you are part kangaroo because of that word.

One word.


Well, thankfully there are some quick fixes you can do as well as run to your Thesaurus and hug it tight, grateful for its existence. Or just go to and use theirs:

pouchnounSynonyms and Antonyms of poucha container made of a flexible material (as paper or plastic) pouch
 and tossed it to the cat>Synonyms poke [chiefly Southern & Midland]bagsackRelated Words carryallportmanteautraveling bagwalletbundlepackpackagepacket,parcelbackpackbarracks bagduffel baghaversackknapsackrucksacksatcheltote;handbagpocketbookpursetote bagditty bagflight baggarment bagkit bagshopping bag,work bagWhile some repetition in writing is good and okay, it really gets to people sometimes. By people, I mean  me. I view writing as an art. If you are going to describe something in detail, don't be repetitive. Try to paint a grand picture using words. I don't want to read about a brown pouch lying on a floor. I want to read about a tattered, dusty leather rucksack that has seen more kingdoms than the owner, carelessly pitched into a corner and forgotten for the moment. Or just cast aside. Or even dropped, flung, hurled and maybe chucked.Then go back over your manuscript and do a search for the word 'pouch' or whatever words you feel you have overused and give them a nice, good tweak.Words have power. Your Thesaurus gives your words superpowers. Make them immortal!
Have anything to add to this post? Please leave a comment.


Annalisa Crawford said...

Nope, nothing to add to this post at all - it's perfect. I love my thesaurus. Because I write shorter novels and novellas, I can usually speed read it in a day, which means repeated words glare at me. Not always, a good editor is always needed, but it could be worse.

Mel Chesley said...

Thank you, Annalisa :)

Roland Clarke said...

Totally agree with the post.

My thesaurus - The Writer's Digest Flip Dictionary - is so thumbed that it's lost the back cover. Used to use Roget's Thesaurus until I found this. Also just found for those obscure words that can only be used in moderation. But going to go overboard for the A to Z Challenge next month.

Mel Chesley said...

Thank you, Roland. And thank you for that link, as well. Good luck in the A-Z challenge!