The words you use

William Faulkner's Underwood Universal Portabl...Do you ever have a hard time finding just the right word?

I do.

My vocabulary sucks is horrendous.  I often fall back on the words I use in my everyday speech and seeing as I mostly talk to my dog, plants, and, maybe, the bathtub; that’s probably not a good idea.

What to do?

Mr. Sage Cohen offers this advice in the Writer’s Digest 25 Ways to Improve Your Writing in 30 Minutes a Day article:

24. Language
Think of your writing as a windshield. Ill-suited words can streak and cloud your reader’s view, and just-right language can be as clarifying as a high-powered carwash. Once you have a solid draft, it’s time to consider:

  • Could a different word bring even more energy or resonance to a poignant moment through sound, subtleties of meaning, or syllabic rhythm?
  • Could the setting be conveyed more vividly? Is the natural world palpable?
  • Is the emotional tone consistently resonant? Are there neutral words or passages that could be more charged?
  • Does the language powerfully enact the action?

As you polish and prune, each piece of writing will teach you something new about what is possible. Let yourself be surprised.

Buy a thesaurus, and remember to use it.

Until next time, write abundantly.


6 thoughts on “The words you use

  1. Two of my favorite books:

    The Synonym Finder, by J.I. Rodale

    Word Menu, by Glazier

    Even if you can’t find the word you need, they’re brilliant when you need some procrastination time.

    1. Excellent! Thanks for stopping by and linking to those. I should have thought of those. I’ve been meaning to bookmark them and kept forgetting. Thanks for reminding me. 🙂

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