1. historymom
    Offline

    historymom Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2014
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    MN

    Does anyone else write with a thesaurus?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by historymom, Jun 18, 2016.

    I find that I am frequently scrambling for better words - not necessarily fancier, just different - and almost always have my web browser open to a thesaurus page so that I can quickly check my options when I get stumped. Maybe this is because my creativity lacks good flow right now. Granted, my inner critic runs on autopilot, and I rarely have more than five interrupted minutes to jot down a decent sentence or two on my WIP. Having said that, I can't even imagine how people can spill out novels in a matter of months. They must not have kids!

    Am I too anal do use this method of word hunting when I write, or does that seem fairly ordinary to most of you?
     
  2. Cave Troll
    Online

    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    3,792
    Likes Received:
    2,410
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    I do. Large print for fast hunting of words, Websters Large print from Random House. Guessing circa 1980's or some where in there abouts. :p
    Thesaurus.jpg

    And for definitions of some harder words, I use Funk and Wagnalls Standard Encyclopedic Dictionary 1972. :p
     
  3. izzybot
    Offline

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    865
    Likes Received:
    955
    Location:
    SC, USA
    I don't, but I'm lucky enough to have a pretty good vocabulary so I pretty much have a thesaurus installed in my head. And no kids, so I can sit for a minute going "uhhh, shit, what's that word, that one word, the one that's like that other word" without interruption, hahah.
     
    minstrel, Brindy and Oscar Leigh like this.
  4. doggiedude
    Offline

    doggiedude Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Messages:
    1,453
    Likes Received:
    1,248
    Location:
    Florida, USA, Earth, The Sol System
    No. I don't write with a thesaurus. I use a word processor or a pen. Maybe a pencil if I'm desperate.
    (Okay... that was a total dad joke.)

    Yea, I have dictionary.com bookmarked and flip over to the thesaurus all the time. Grammarly will catch me if I repeat some words more than a couple of times in a paragraph so sometimes I need to find alternatives.
     
    BC Barry, Brindy and Oscar Leigh like this.
  5. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,804
    Likes Received:
    7,322
    Location:
    Scotland
    I definitely use a thesaurus, but it's a good idea not to rely on them for everything.

    Sometimes an alternative word isn't what you need. What you may need is an alternative way to make your meaning clear. Maybe a different image from the one you're working with, or something like that.

    Most words (I'd say "all" except there are bound to be exceptions) do not have an exact synonym. If you rely on a thesaurus to avoid repetition, what you might end up with is a word that doesn't mean exactly what you want it to mean. Better to get in the habit of trying to find another way to express that exact meaning, rather than dashing to a thesaurus every time you're stumped for word choice.

    However, once in a while, they are great to have and to use. I have two of them. The Roget's and the Collins.
     
  6. Wayjor Frippery
    Offline

    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2016
    Messages:
    609
    Likes Received:
    707
    Location:
    Tranquility Base
    No you're not. Yes, it does. I reckon.

    I mostly use www.oxforddictionaries.com. Almost all entries have a synonyms tab so the thesaurus is built in. I use it constantly, even to check the meaning of simple words that I'm sure I know – I don't want to be fancy, but I do want to be precise, and most words have multiple definitions based on context. I find that fifty percent of the battle is saying what I mean*, so I'm convinced that dictionary/thesaurus use is an indispensable writer's tool.

    *The other fifty percent is the kid problem you mentioned above. Velcro wallpaper and Velcro playsuits is the answer, although that doesn't stop them shouting...
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2016
    Brindy and Oscar Leigh like this.
  7. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,425
    Likes Received:
    1,982
    Location:
    Australia
    I use one occasionally. Also, talking to other people, particularly older wise ones, helps me learn new words I might eventually use.
     
    Brindy likes this.
  8. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,969
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    I find it a little worrying.

    If you're using it to find new words and then using them without any previous familiarity, I think it's definitely a bad idea.

    If you're using it to roam around in words that you already know, or to trigger your memory to dredge up a word what you know you want but can't quite remember, it's less of an issue.

    If you're using it motivated by, "That word is too simple. Let's find something fancier and smarter-sounding," that's an issue.
     
  9. Mumble Bee
    Offline

    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

    Joined:
    May 18, 2015
    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    1,306
    I don't use a thesaurus but i'd be boned without google.

    Google: Small bed that babies sleep in
    Suggestion- Crib

    Ohh, yeah, I totally knew that... now whats that swaddly wrap thing they sleep in called?
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  10. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,425
    Likes Received:
    1,982
    Location:
    Australia
    Blanket. :D
     
    Mumble Bee likes this.
  11. izzybot
    Offline

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    865
    Likes Received:
    955
    Location:
    SC, USA
    One time I forgot what saplings were called and googled something like 'baby trees'. Google just thought I must want to buy baby trees :\ But hey actually seeing pictures of saplings reminded me what they're called so it worked out.
     
  12. Sack-a-Doo!
    Offline

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,231
    Likes Received:
    1,511
    Location:
    [unspecified]
    I thought it was just me doing this. Sometimes I even do it so I can assemble an alliteration. :)
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  13. peachalulu
    Online

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I use it mainly because I'm trying to joggle for the right word. I'm kinda going well it's got to do with rage ( or whatever ) and then I flip to see what's under the heading of anger and rage. And then I might go with indignation or ire or verify that rage was perfectly fine to begin with. I don't use it to find better words though. I don't believe there is such a thing as a better word just the right word for the right moment.
    The other reason I use it is when I'm going for sound, syllables, looks. Just recently I picked the word jut ( paired with jut out ) but didn't like it's hard one syllable ( especially doubled up ) in the sentence and went back to what I originally wrote.

    I had a free thesaurus on my old computer and I used that for years. But since I got my new computer a few years ago I find I use a thesaurus less and less. When I turn to one though it's - Rodale's The Synonym Finder.
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  14. Zorg
    Offline

    Zorg Member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2016
    Messages:
    70
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Sonora, CA
    I use one but sparingly. I don't want to give a character too much of a vocabulary that doesn't meet their personality.
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  15. Justin Rocket 2
    Offline

    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2013
    Messages:
    1,034
    Likes Received:
    194
    I don't write with a thesaurus, but I do write with a dictionary. Remembering synonyms is easy for me, but making sure the synonym has the right denotation/connotation is something I sometimes have to work on.
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  16. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Oscar Leigh and historymom like this.
  17. mrieder79
    Offline

    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Messages:
    401
    Likes Received:
    283
    Location:
    Uyumbe
    Thesaurus.com. Its for when I reach for the word and I know the flavor and feel of the word, but can't get my verbal centers kicking. Thesaurus.com is a jump start.
     
    Oscar Leigh, Tenderiser and Romana like this.
  18. Miller0700
    Offline

    Miller0700 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2016
    Messages:
    582
    Likes Received:
    343
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    I use the thesaurus on Word occasionally.
     
  19. Tenderiser
    Offline

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    4,288
    Likes Received:
    5,161
    Location:
    London, UK
    I often have thesaurus.com open while I write, but I almost always use it when I can't think of the word I want. You know when a word's at the back of your mind and you can't bring it forward?

    I rarely use it to find alternative words for something. I'm a big fan of using simple language, and if *I* don't know a word I don't expect readers to.
     
  20. BC Barry
    Offline

    BC Barry Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2016
    Messages:
    70
    Likes Received:
    57
    Location:
    New York, USA
    I began writing without one until I re-read a chapter and realized I'd typed obviously or obvious a whole 17 times in that one chapter.

    Then I realized it was time for the thesaurus.
     
    izzybot and Oscar Leigh like this.
  21. doggiedude
    Offline

    doggiedude Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Messages:
    1,453
    Likes Received:
    1,248
    Location:
    Florida, USA, Earth, The Sol System
    It's not always about finding a fancy word. Sometimes I just can't think of a simple alternative until I look at the thesaurus.
     
  22. Tenderiser
    Offline

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    4,288
    Likes Received:
    5,161
    Location:
    London, UK
    That'd fall into the first sentence of my post then, wouldn't it?
     
  23. doggiedude
    Offline

    doggiedude Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Messages:
    1,453
    Likes Received:
    1,248
    Location:
    Florida, USA, Earth, The Sol System
    Yea, it does. That post was done before coffee.
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  24. Holoman
    Offline

    Holoman Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2016
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    8
    Yes I use a thesaurus a lot, because my memory is so bad I just can't think of words, and I end up using the same word repeatedly and need to find an alternative. Or I may think of a word that doesn't quite fit what I want to convey so I look for synonyms.

    If it breaks my flow, sometimes I just write any old word in there and underline it, so that I know to change it when editing. That's one good way to just let yourself write without the interruptions.
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  25. obsidian_cicatrix
    Offline

    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2013
    Messages:
    1,711
    Likes Received:
    1,453
    Location:
    Belfast, Northern Ireland
    I don't. I have a fairly broad vocabulary, and can generally provide several synonyms for any given word on demand. (It's a bit of a superpower of mine; maybe it's what makes up for the fact that, otherwise, my memory is shit poor. I can't even remember what I had for lunch yesterday.) I will, occasionally, second-guess my usage, which sends me scurrying for a dictionary, but a thesauraus, no. I've seen writers make very poor word choices, ones that obviously have been conjoured from book rather than brain. They seem lacking, or conversely seem overblown.

    I can understand why, for some, a thesaurus is a necessary tool of the craft, but word choice has always been something I've pulled from my gut. It's not something I ever have to think much about when I'm writing, unless on reflection I'm after a change in tone. It's almost as if my brain assigns a mood related, emotional tag to each and every word. Knowing what mood I'm aiming for is generally enough to pop the right word to the fore. I'm something of a nervous chatterer in real life, think that might have something to do with it.

    Now if I could only remember how to spell the damn word. ;)
     

Share This Page