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#WW Writing Tips: Build Your Vocabulary

1 Jun

Vocabulary. It’s definitely a necessity for writing a book. A novel, after all, is written with words. It’s built on the structure, the sound, and the meaning behind every word you use, so naturally, building an extensive vocabulary is a vital aspect of every writer’s life. That being said, it’s not as easy as it sounds, and there are some controversial methods roaming around the #writingtips web-o-sphere about how and when and what tools to use when trying to ramp up your style. I agree with some and definitely disagree with others. Overall, I think naturally building your vocabulary from reading is key. This means you are reading everything and anything all of the time, and you’re taking notes about what you don’t understand so you will understand it next time. This also means that you’re not going through your manuscripts and replacing random words with more random words just to seem like a logophile. (Logophile n. A lover of words.)

editing

So how can you build your vocabulary both for yourself and for your work?

Here are some tips:

DO NOT USE A THESAURUS  I repeat, DO NOT USE A THESAURUS. Not mindlessly anyway. I find nothing wrong with using a Thesaurus to find new words and to study them (with a dictionary by your side), but I definitely think that reading a Thesaurus and writing a novel should be two separate activities. As an editor, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen a sentence that someone obviously used Microsoft Thesaurus on. Smile, grin, and smirk are three words that imply completely separate meanings when paired with the same dialogue, yet appear in every Thesaurus together. If you know that, why would you use a thesaurus to replace ANY word you aren’t 100% about? You wouldn’t. A Thesaurus provides SIMILAR words, meaning they have their own connotations, definitions, and effects on your piece. It can be a great tool when simply learning about new words, but you need to pair it with a dictionary and not immediately go to your manuscript afterward. In fact, never go to your manuscript afterward. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

Now that we’re over that, I’ll move on.

1. Read More

Read. Read. Read. I cannot stress reading enough. Not only will reading help you build your vocabulary, it will also help you shape your voice, your plots, and how you write a novel in general (not to mention that it’ll keep you updated on what’s hot in the marketplace). There are millions of positive reasons to be reading, and literally no reasons to not be reading, especially if you’re an author. Read your genre, read outside your genre, and read things you never thought you would read. As an example, I went to study literature and fiction in college, but found myself drawn more and more to poetry. I never thought I could like it in my life, but that was because I wasn’t exposed to everything out there. Take that leap and discover something outside of your comfort zone. It might just change your life.

2. Pay Attention While Reading

It’s easy to get lost in the words—I mean, that’s half the fun—but try to pay attention. Slow down and soak up every word you can. If you come across a word you don’t know POSITIVELY, circle it. I say positively, because I think we all know we can figure out meanings to the sentence without knowing every definition—yeah, connotation!—but if you don’t know the word without that sentence, you won’t naturally use it again. By circling words you don’t know, you can come back and research them later. I actually do this with every book I read. I circle words, and when I’m done with the book, I research all the words or phrases I wasn’t 100% sure about. Then, I write them down in a notebook to study later. This helps me memorize and retain words I wouldn’t have known otherwise, and hopefully, my larger vocabulary will start to show over time. This does not mean you then go to your manuscript and try to fit these words in unnaturally. Please don’t. The idea is that you’re adding these words to your vocabulary naturally, so that when you are writing, they begin to shape themselves into your voice. Again. Write them down, study them, but don’t start forcing them into your work. If you do that, you might as well be using a Thesaurus. 😉

3. Keep This Method in Mind for Other Faults

Circle sounds you like. Circle phrases you enjoy. Hell, highlight entire scenes that caught you and kept you there. Figure out why you loved that scene. Was it the tension? What words made it tense? Why did those words make it tense? Study how connotation shapes the same words in different ways. Again, do not plagiarize. This is simply an exercise to get your brain moving. Example? Maybe a character put his hands in his pockets, then leaned back on his heels….and you’ve never thought about that movement before. (And we all know how important character descriptions get.) Keeping notes on little moments like these will get you to start thinking about little moments in your life, and hopefully, you’ll start noticing other real-life movements around you that you can then use in your story using your OWN voice to do so.

These are three ways to start building your vocabulary seriously. It might seem extreme to circle every word you don’t know, but it’s well worth it in the end. I find crosswords help me, too. (I love crosswords.) They force me to think of words I wouldn’t normally consider, and they often have me Googling if I couldn’t figure the answers out. I live, I learn, I write. And naturally, they all thread themselves together over of period of era….Oh, wait. I meant over a period of time. Silly, Thesaurus.

~SAT

teaser3Did you see this week’s Teaser Tuesday? If not, now you do! I hope you’re enjoying them as they release! I also hope you’re entering all the current giveaways!

Win a paperback of November Rain in this Goodreads Giveaway.

Win signed swag from The Timely Death Trilogy and Bad Bloods by signing up for the Bad Bloods Thunderclap and emailing me your support at shannonathompson@aol.com.

Read the FREE Bad Bloods Prequel on Wattpad. A new story is released every other Friday. In fact, one releases this week!

For Barnes & Noble’s first-ever national teen book fesitival, I will be signing books and hosting an author panel in TWO KC stores. Come see me on Saturday, June 11th in Overland Park, Kansas, or on Sunday, June 12th in Zona Rosa, KC, MO. More info can be found on my Events page.

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

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#SATurdate: X-Men Apocalypse, Winter, Money Monster, & Banana Desserts

28 May

What I’m Writing:

I’ve actually been working on the free Bad Bloods Prequel on Wattpad this week. Even though the origin stories were written a long time ago, the next few stories needed more attention than the other ones. I hope you’ve enjoyed the first three chapters—which included the origin stories of Adam, Michele, and Maggie—and you’ll meet Ryne from the Northern Flock on June 3. Even crazier? Violet’s story releases on Wattpad June 17. Violet—previously known as Kati in the original publication—is actually a shade, and she may or may not be directly linked to The Timely Death Trilogy. That’s right. Bad Bloods and The Timely Death Trilogy are linked. After Violet, though, you’ll FINALLY get to meet a Southern Flock character. (They formed later than the Northern Flock, hence why you haven’t met them yet.) I’ll continue to post a new origin story every other Friday on Wattpad. If you like the stories, please vote, comment, and share. It helps little authors like me out. Other times, I get really bored (since I’m trying to force myself to take a little break from writing), and I spend hours on Rinmaru games creating my characters. Here’s Adam, Michele, and Maggie as kids.

kids

What I’m Publishing:

If you sign up for the Bad Bloods Thunderclap, I will send you signed swag from The Timely Death Trilogy and Bad Bloods! Sign up here. Once you do, take a screenshot of your support and e-mail it to me at shannonathompson@aol.com, along with your address, and I’ll send it soon.

GoodreadsGiveawayThere’s also a Goodreads Giveaway going on for November Rain right now! And that’s not all. If you pre-order November Snow and send me the receipt to shannonathompson@aol.com, I will send you your eBook copy of November Rain TODAY. Also, if you write a review, you will receive November Snow, too.

The #1lineWed preview was “anger,”so here’s this week’s preview: “Enough,” Michele snapped, but even her anger was delicate.

What are readers already saying?

“Fast Paced. Intriguing. Gripping. Just like any other book Thompson wrote, this one stands tall. An epic read that will take you in from the very first page and not let you go. A real page turner.” – Crazy Beautiful Reads

“I recommend November Rain for EVERYONE but especially fans of dystopian and SCIFI. A great novel. It was full of strong characters each with their own background and an interesting world.” – The Book Forums

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads

Visit the Pinterest and Facebook Pages.

What I’m Reading:

13245305_1049308838449630_6469427564510674207_nI FINALLY started Winter by Marissa Meyer! As many of you know, I love The Lunar Chronicles, so I’ve been holding onto the fourth book with a deep desperation for more time to read it. I’m only a little ways into it, but I love it already. Winter is such an interesting, complex and shameless character. She’s very refreshing, and of course, a welcome addition to The Lunar Chronicles cast.

What I’m Listening To:

13320366_1049951935051987_9197921459974128700_oTornado sirens. That’s right. We had some tornado issues here this week. And they almost killed me. And by “almost killed me,” I mean my cats almost killed me when I was forcing them into the basement to…you know…save their lives…from the tornados that never came. Oh, well. I’ve always wanted Wolverine scars on my neck. All was forgiven when we watched the storm together afterward.

What I’m Watching:

Since I’m attempting to take a writing break, I practically lived at the theatre.

X-Men Apocalypse: I see why there are rumors to replace Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. I LOVE LOVE LOVE J-Law, but I feel like they’ve typecasted her into playing Katniss playing Mystique rather than an authentic Mystique (which I bet is the director’s choice, not hers), but it might be time to switch things up. Other than that little note, I LOVED X-Men Apocalypse. It was really fun to see how it tied into the other films, and I most definitely loved the hint to the destruction of the future Jean/Phoenix. Nightcrawler is one of my favorites, so it was great seeing him, too! Stay after those credits, folks. The little teaser is awesome.

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Money Monster: I surprisingly loved this movie. I don’t know why I didn’t think I would like it. (Maybe because I only saw slander ads after George Clooney was marketing to pay off some student loan debt while advertising for this movie.) But I really loved this movie. Although one or two scenes weren’t believable to me, I thought it was suspenseful and disturbingly honest about the economy and how it affects the little guy. It leaves you dissatisfied in a perfect way.

clooney-char

I also saw Zootopia this week. That movie is SUPER cute, and I really loved the message behind it. I also want a pet fox now.

I recommend all three movies above.

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

After having family in town, we had 12 bananas in the house that were going to rot, so I made mini banana foster cheesecakes and honey vanilla banana bread. Click either link for the recipe I used. I definitely recommend them both, though the banana bread will definitely last longer, and those cheesecakes are awesome but SUPER sweet. (I’ll definitely make them again.)

desserts

What I’m Wearing:

I wore yellow to channel my inner minions while baking banana desserts.

What I’m Wanting:

CjY2bS6VAAQ7gfZCassandra Clare is writing a Magnus Bane trilogy with Wesley Chu for adults, and I want it right meow. Here’s the official announcement from EW: Cassandra Clare Will Publish Series Based on Magnus Bane.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

So a bounty hunter was trying to kill me, and a friend called—very nonchalant about my impending death—and invited me to come on a train ride if I survived. I barely reached the station without being killed, but I boarded the train with my friend safely. Except not really. This train wasn’t just a train. It was an ocean train…so it swam over waves and storms and such. You could also get on the on-board swimming pool, which connected with the ocean, and there, you could swim with the dolphins and other sea creatures as you traveled on the train. But then people started committing murder on the ocean vessel, and we were trying to solve it. It ended up being the dolphins. Tricky creatures.

What Else Is Going On:

changeYou probably heard the news, but there’s been a slight change to my #BFestBuzz! I’ll be signing books and hosting an author panel in TWO Barnes & Noble stores in the Kansas City area during B-Fest!

On Saturday, June 11th, come see me at Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, KS. 
Event Link.

On Sunday, June 12th, you can see me at Zona Rosa in Kansas City, MO. Event Link.

I really hope to meet some of you there, but since I know many of you don’t live in the KC area, I hope one day that I can come to your town, too!

~SAT

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