1. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    Descriptive words to [I]use[/I] (not too much or too little)

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by BillyxRansom, Jan 1, 2009.

    One of the things I'm afraid of, is, when trying to describe, I focus on trying not to use drab vocabulary. Problem is, I think my vocabulary leaves something to be desired. Should I be worried about this? Could I just write, without having to think about whether or not my descriptions really bring the scene alive? How do I bring the scene alive if my vocabulary is somewhat limited?

    I feel like the amount of times I've asked this is at about a score or two.
     
  2. garmar69
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    garmar69 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Going off your well thought out and articulate post, I would say you have nothing to worry about.

    Big fancy words does not equal better writing. I would go with the first word that comes to mind and avoid trying to 'fancy up' your vocabulary. Add to it by all means, just don't try to over-reach.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The words you use to describe a scene or an action reflect the voice of the narrator. If your narrator is a deckhand on a fishing boat, the vocabulary should reflect the vocabulary of the character. This may well include words that are not familiar to you, the writer. On the other hand, don't go so deeply into jargon that your narration is impenetrable to the reader.

    The trick is to use the right words when necessary to fix the image in the reader's mind's eye without it being noticeable that you're choosing your wording carefully. If you can paint a picture for the reader with simple, direct wording, by all means do so!

    Usually, the problem I see with vocabulary when someone uses a word that ALMOST fits, but is just enough off to be distracting, like a guitar string slightly out of tune.
     
  4. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    This will sound pretentious, it just will and I'm sorry about that in advance:

    A lot of times, the very best word I know--that is, knowing it from previous knowledge of the word (learning its meaning, and so on)--that word just doesn't express it the way I feel it should.

    .....That suddenly also sounds really melodramatic.
     
  5. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    I actually know exactly what you're talking about because that happens to me too. Sometimes I just use the best word I can think of that gets close to what I'm trying to express, then move on. And then later on, after I've read my piece a bunch of times, a better word will come to mind.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you can always resort to a thesaurus... BUT--and it's a very biiiiig 'but'!--most who do that only make things worse, because they pluck out and use fancier words they're not on intimate terms with and don't check their dictionary meanings first, to see if they really apply well to the case at hand... which in most cases, they won't...

    this is the bane of someone like myself who works full time with new writers, as so many of them have poor vocabularies and just love charging into that thesaurus treasure chest, like attila hitting a riches-rife new city...

    the best way to increase your vocabulary, other than constantly reading good writing, is to do the ny [or london] times daily crossword till you can do it in ink, in 15 minutes, or less... then, graduate to the sunday ones... after mastering those, keep it up and add thomas middleton's acrostics to your daily brain workout...
     
  7. HKB
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    HKB Contributing Member

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    What helps me is I write down words I hear or read when I don't know what they mean or I am not confident of their meaning enough to use it in sentence. I keep them in a notebook that I carry around, they work their way into my vocabulary organically so that I have more to draw upon while writing. I love the thesaurus, but the point is to find the right word not the "big" word.
     
  8. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    When I write, I don't like too much fuss about what words to use or not to use. Instead I focus on the meat of the story line.

    While re-reading the piece, that is when I will add those words that pop.
     
  9. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    I agree with doing both of these. I like them.
     
  10. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    I would not knock a thesaurus. The good thing about them is that they can help expand your vocabulary, especially when you take the time to learn the meaning of words you do not know.

    I also say use it because you may know other words that could could be substituted but may ne be readily available in your mind.

    Example, I used the word 'looked' a lot but depending on what I am trying to say I could use 'turned', 'searched', 'seemed'. 'Looked' is my old standby but I over use the word often so the thesaurus jogs my memory as to what other words I can use.

    The thesaurus can be a help as long as you use it wisely.
     
  11. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    ...And this!
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the problem is, so many don't!
     

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