Thursday, April 16, 2009

To use or not to use...

A thesaurus...

This quote by Stephen King got me thinking.

Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule. ~~Stephen King

What did he mean by that? When I’m writing a poem or writing anything in general and I keep repeating the same word over and over, and other words are on the tip of my tongue, but I just need to look the word up in the thesaurus to grab a hold of it and use the elusive word.

I think what he meant is that if you need to HUNT for a word to use, then it is the wrong word. He meant that you are not getting your message across clearly if you need to dig for words to use.

If I say, “It was a dirt laden path.” Maybe I want to say, “Before me was a grungy dirt laden path.” or, “I tread upon the dirt laden path that was gravelly and muddy leaving tracks an inch thick behind me.”

Now if I go to my Thesaurus, I’m given a slew of other words to use for dirt. Unsightly,bedraggled, smutty, unkempt and the list goes on and on. Well they were all on the tip of my tongue but with so many other words on my tongue they all got lost along the way. I didn’t need to hunt for them like they were cheese on a mousetrap. They are all there in my mind, sometimes I need a refresher to show me the word I’m thinking of. (Hey, I’m not getting any younger here.) With them, I don’t need to repeat the same word over and over again.

I’m not as educated as Stephen King. I’m far from it. Although I am steeped in knowledge, my words don’t flow fluently like a river. I haven’t written the enormous amount of novels that he has to where the words obviously spring to mind like popcorn on the stove!

To tell the new writer a thesaurus is out of the question, is like telling them to dig somewhere else for gold, this is his spot. I’m sure he’d be the first to tell you that he’s not the smartest man in the world and none of his sage advice is set in stone. I’ve found so many different writing books that contradict one another, I’ve stopped reading them.

The writing world can be crazy and confusing to new writers. They dive in trying to drink in everything and anything there is about writing only to find themselves confused with what is right and wrong. Guess what people, there is no tried and true formula! Writing is a talent, a gift. You either have it or you don’t.

I think if your style is in line, the words are in check, you don’t need a special class to tell you how to write a sentence. My sage advice? Just write RIGHT!


Darin said...

I agree, write right, but..there's always a 'but', still..learning by doing is better.

Raven said...


We are on the same page concerning the use of the thesaurus. It's a good tool. The trick is to know how to select the proper word to suit the story and the writing style.


joni said...

Yes Darin,
We can only learn to write by doing it and doing it always! Once a writer always a writer I always say. :-)

This was all your fault! lol It got me to thinking about the thesaurus and it's use.

I'm all for a thesaurus!!!

Thanks for popping in!