Tag Archives: thesaurus

#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

Website Wonders

27 Apr

It’s that time again. The end of the month. (Is it just me or did April go by really fast?) Today is dedicated to Website Wonders – a day where I share all the fun writing and reading websites I have come across. This month, I have organized the categories like this: Writing: Reading: Book-to-Movie Adaptations, Fun and Inspirational Articles, Songs, and Photos. What can I say? It’s been a crazy month. If you’re feeling really adventurous, here is my previous Website Wonder.

Writing:

Synonyms for 95 Commonly Used Words – A Mini-Thesaurus for Writers: This is a fast (I mean, quick) way to check your writing for common language. It also suggests new (I mean, unique) words to use instead.

The Best Apps for Any Kind of Writing: These are amazing.

Reading:

Reddit’s Top 105 Fantasy Novels/Series of All Time Quiz: A lot of the books/authors repeat, but it’s still fun to take it if you’re a fantasy fan.

What Kind of Book Are You? Quiz: I am a mystery.

NPR’s April Fool’s Day Prank Was An Absolute Masterpiece: I won’t ruin it with an explanation, but don’t you just hate people who judge things that haven’t read?

Famous Quotes Illustrated with Minimalist Designs: I thought these were beautifully done

100 Amazing Books to Read in a Lifetime: Pretty good collection

Book-to-Movie Adaptations:

If I Stay Official Trailer: I love this novel so much. It broke one of the norms of novels by beginning in perfect bliss, and it worked with music so well.

“The Giver” Featurette Comes with New Black-And-White Footage: It looks like The Giver Movie will feature some black and white! I’m really happy about this because the original trailer destroyed my hope for this movie and this featurette built it back up.

Fun and Inspirational Articles:

The Most Haunted Place in the World is For SaleMy guilty pleasure is horror, so this got my mind racing with ideas.

Most Beautiful Forests in the World: I am also a fan of trees.

 48 Epic Dream Hotels to Visit Before You Die: This is where I excuse myself to go write a short story about me visiting these places, so I can pretend I’m actually there for a moment.

Songs:

Under the Sea: It’s been raining a lot here, so this is what I play.

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen: I confess that my 12-year-old song used to use this as motivation

Photos: (none of these are mine. Please click the links to visit the owners or where I got them from.)

Random House:

1236487_10152302327867389_982375285_n

Fantasy is More Fun:

578583_473014839492632_1992308411_n

National Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan:

10250246_758499234162046_7464910688836014045_n

Vintage Books & Anchor BooksRIP Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014)

RIP Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014)

RIP Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014)

Hope you’ve enjoyed these as much as I did! Remember, I always share these on my Facebook page, so join me over there to get these on a regular basis. You will also have the opportunity to play fun games and win guest spots on my blog. 

~SAT

%d bloggers like this: