top of page

The Right Word

“It’s worth the work to find the precise word that will create a feeling or describe a situation. Use a thesaurus, use your imagination, scratch your head until it comes to you, but find the right word.” - Isabel Allende

One lesson, learned from my critique group, and of this I’m very sure-no, certain: “Delete emphasis words like ‘very’, and use something specific”.

Okay, so my computer thesaurus can help find a specific word, but if you need a comprehensive list of synonyms, then you still can’t go past Roget. My copy is ancient, printed in 1975. I wouldn’t be without it. Ditto my Collins English Dictionary, slightly younger, this version born in 1979. Back in the day, when I pounded a typewriter and knocked out travel and history articles and opinion pieces for magazines and newspapers, they were all I had!

I still run to them, and all the other language reference books I’ve accumulated, to find that elusive exact word. Writing historical romance, it’s crucial. For example, you’ve probably heard the word ‘whippersnapper’. It evolved from ‘whip snapper’, this latter expression used back in the late eighteenth century, the period when The Heart Has Its Reasons is set. Sure, I could look it up on Google, but how would I get my exercise?

My doctor advised that if you need to sit for hours at a stretch (as we writers do), get out of that chair at least every forty minutes. When I’m in the zone, if I need just the right word, I force myself to leap up and take 3 steps to the bookshelf to consult my reference books. Between doing this, and getting up to raid the fridge, most days I regularly manage the forty minute leap.

So, don’t be lazy. Whenever you’re tempted to use words like “very” or “extremely”, jump up and consult a thesaurus. Your writing will be all the better for it, and so will your back!

The Heart Has Its Reasons is available for ORDER by clicking this link



Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page