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Use Your Thesaurus with Caution

15 July 2017

From Lit World Interviews:

As writers, words are our friends. Our best times are when they flow from us with beauty or power. They can sometimes trip us up too though, when we overthink them. A thesaurus can be very helpful when you’re stuck for a good word, or when you want to avoid using the same word excessively in the same paragraph. It can sometimes take a nasty while to create a sentence when there’s only one word available that you can think of to convey what you want to say or project, or when you sort of remember the word you want, but it insists of hovering just south of your thinking mind. That font of awesome wordiness can also be a problem when overused. It’s not only adverb overuse that can get you in trouble, but also the use of too many big, flowery, or misinterpreted words sometimes.

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Think about those times when you were happily reading a book, totally immersed in the story, and you got to a word or sentence that made you cringe and stopped you in your tracks. Not anything sweary or rude—those things can often make for fabulous dramatic flow, but something pretentious or jarring.

Link to the rest at Lit World Interviews

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3 Comments to “Use Your Thesaurus with Caution”

  1. The paradox of the thesaurus is that you can use it only to find words you already know well that elude your memory at the moment.

  2. And that’s precisely my problem, the reason I usually write with thesaurus.com open in a second browser tab. I know all the words, I know their usage– I just can’t quite put my finger on the one I want to use right now. I know there IS one, I just can’t remember what it is.

  3. A book thesaurus (mine’s Roget’s 7th) is infinitely better than any thesaurus app I’ve ever used, although I think TheSage is the best dictionary/thesaurus app around.

    I’ll continue to use a thesaurus when I’m writing, thank you. I don’t need — or appreciate — snarky, smug advice like this that, in actuality, promotes illiteracy.

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