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another post about finding the perfect word

Yes, I’m that picky kind of writer. It’s hard for me to spew stuff willy-nilly, though I’m trying to learn that talent. I stand in awe of people who churn out 5,000 words a day and then go back to consolidate and shape their raw words into a cohesive story.

You DO go back and shape those words, don’t you?

When I find the perfect words, with the appropriate nuance, with layers of meaning…well, it gives me a little tickle. I like a lot of flavor packed into each sentence.

So beyond the dictionary and the thesaurus, there’s this tool:

OneLook Reverse Dictionary.

“OneLook’s reverse dictionary lets you describe a concept and get back a list of words and phrases related to that concept. Your description can be a few words, a sentence, a question, or even just a single word. Just type it into the box above and hit the “Find words” button. Keep it short to get the best results. In most cases you’ll get back a list of related terms with the best matches shown first.”


Let’s try  “sad face”:

I get 100 words, including:

sorrow, gloom, doleful, long face, plaint, mournful, pensive, dejected, wan, sombre, weight, lined, heavy, suppress, tragedy, lugubrious, cloud, woebegone, mourning, buckle, vein, and mow, and many others…


Turns out a definition of mow is:

verb:  make a sad face and thrust out one’s lower lip (“Mop and mow”)  (MACMILLAN DICTIONARY ONLINE)

Dang. Words. Just when you think you know them.

Slippery little devils.


thesaurus surfing

I wrote today.

Well, I write just about every day. Doesn’t everybody? Show of hands.

I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire right now: blogs, articles, flash fiction, and of course, my YA novel WIP.

This time around, I’ve been trying to mostly disgorge my YA novel in a fell swoop. You know. Get that puppy down in a first draft and and then go from there, rather than the method of polishing as you go.

That’s a lot harder for me. I’m mostly doing it, and I think it’s paying off in a more complicated plot. But I’m still a panster. If you force me to outline everything beforehand, I am going to be very, very bored when I actually write the thing. And that, my little ones, will show up in the final product, won’t it?

But my last two chapters were SUCH a jumbled mess I gave in and rewrote today, and allowed myself the luxury of polishing.

What a relief!

Even though I write for guys, or maybe ESPECIALLY because I write for guys, I pick every frickin’ word I use carefully. I am a spare writer, kids. Look here.

And I got to wondering today if anyone else Thesaurus Surfs.

It goes like this:

I want to replace GUT WRENCHING.

So I look up “wrench”. Some of the words:

contort, bend, screw, twist

Lets look at “twist”:

corkscrew, warp, twirl, spin

Not quite what I’m looking for. Trying “spin”:

pivot, gyrate, whirlwind, torque.


“…my guts torque.”

That’s a teen guy talking, if you ask me.

Writing and Wranting

The sun is out and the piles of snow are bleach-bright. My brain hums like 10,000 bees banging around between a window and a screen, unable to find that dang little hole they crawled in.

Time for a writerly tip.

Do not over-rely on your thesaurus.

You can’t type in a word and simply choose anything  from the list that pops up to insert into your WIP. Have more respect for your tools. Every word in the English language has color and nuance.

Which leads me to the pet peeve portion of our program.

Responsibility is a big word for me. I never let my kids shirk it. I can’t stand it when parents don’t make their children shoulder it. It infuriates me when adults run away from it. I have often carried way more than my fair share of it. If you go here:

you will get this:

But not all of those words actually mean “responsibility”. Some of the words are close, and some are only related.

One of these words that people use interchangeably with “responsibility” is “fault”.


They are not the same thing.

When a calamity happens, you don’t always have to point a finger and figure out whose fault it is. Grind them into the dirt. MAKE THEM BLEED.

For God’s sake, people. Sometimes poop happens. Let the pooper man up, take responsibility, and get on with life.

Fault only matters if there’s an earthquake.

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