Thursday, June 21, 2007

Detecting the Acceptable Verbiage

As writers, we delight in finding just the right words to bring our ideas to life on the page. A few thoughts on how we can do this:

Use a thesaurus. But do so with caution. A thesaurus may throw up a medley of synonyms for you to elect amongst, but many of these expressions will be unfortunate.

Put an unusual twist on a common phrase. Think outside the cliché. (OK, so I need to work on that one.)

Stay true to the voice of the work. Each word, each phrase, each sentence should fit your voice. The dialog should fit your characters. Read your manuscript aloud so you can feel the rhythm of your words.

Perform a search for overused words. We all have them … mine are “just” and “but.” They’re all over my manuscripts. With throw-away words such as these, you can often just eliminate the words, but in other cases, you may need to find appropriate substitutes. (See what I mean about “just” and “but”?)

Other ideas for finding the perfect words?


Lauren said...

"Just" is one of my bad words, too. So are "was" and "had." And adverbs. I like those too much. It's not good.

Rilla said...

Hey Linda,
Great topic!
As Lauren says, adverbs are too easy to slip in. I use the Word search to look for all words ending in -ly. Of course, you pick up a few only's but then you also get to see if you've used too many of those.
As to the thesaurus, I use two simultaneously -- the Word one along with the Encyclopedia Britannica and since they're both online, it's so simple.