Thursday, January 14, 2010

Back to Basics

My mother teaches 5th graders and she recently gave me a list of commonly overused words in writing. The list is great because it also gives a few alternative words to use instead. I'm only going to share a few to show what I'm talking about, and then I am going to encourage you to learn how to use the "Thesaurus" feature on your word processor. It is one of the best resources you have.

(adj) similar, equivalent, parallel
(verb) enjoy, relish, appreciate
Example: "I liked the candy" becomes "I relished every bite of the candy"
See how it adds a new dimension. Try the thesaurus and insert different words until you find what conveys the meaning you are going for.

pleasant, satisfying, gracious, charming
Example: "The man was nice" becomes "The man was charming"
The connotation is more revealing than just "nice" and I think it opens up more possibilities for his character.

conceive, imagine, ponder, reflect, contemplate
Example: "I needed to think about his question" becomes "I contemplated his question"

desire, crave, yearn, long

alter, transform, vary, replace, diversify

preferable, superior, worthier

There are so many others, but you get the picture. So, the next time you notice the same words popping up in your manuscript, pull up the thesaurus and add a little spice. You will find a new depth entering your writing and the power of words will amaze you.

Finally, a bit of fun for you.
Strong Verb Poem

The dog ate the bone.
Don't you think that's kind of weak?
The verb here is "ate"
But it needs a little tweak.
The dog ate the bone,
Let's try another verb.
One that's really fun to write,
One that's quite superb.
The dog could devour the bone,
Nibble, gnaw, or munch it.
The dog could snark-up the bone,
Gobble, bite or crunch it.
The dog could consume the bone,
Oh yes, that dog could do it,
Inhale the bone, impale the bone,
Swallow, gulp or chew it.
So when you're writing to impress,
Don't use a very that fizzles.
Think of every word you know,
And give me one that sizzles!