1. Mr-Mister-Eli
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    Mr-Mister-Eli New Member

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    How do you come up with interesting words?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Mr-Mister-Eli, Aug 18, 2009.

    Admittedly I don't read a lot, but I love to write. So I have a problem with thinking of interesting words.

    Do you guys read the dictionary? Or do you just read a lot of books?

    Sorry for the dumb question!
     
  2. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't be sorry. It's important to have a good vocabulary as a writer, but what matters is not using interesting words. You have to use the right word. If you put too much effort into fancy vocabulary and stuff, it takes away from the quality. Why use surrepticious when you can say secretive?
     
  3. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just go on an online thesaurus, or read some political speeches ;)
     
  4. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    Yeah. I started off using a lot of big words, but then I relaxed and just used what felt right.
     
  5. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    It's more about the right sentences for me. But, I suppose the right words make the right sentence...:p
    I don't read very much either and I don't use big, fancy words. I stick to what I know and I only use a thesaurus if I'm using the word too many times in that paragraph which is not that often... :)
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Words are the tools of the craft.You don't meed an impressive array of them, so much as you must use the ones you have correctly.

    To be fair, a solid vocabulary is important. The best way to build it is through a love of reading. When you encounter a word you don't know well, look it up in the dictionary. Make sure you understand its use in the context of the writing.

    Sometimes you will find words misused, even with well-respected authors. If you look up a word and it doesn't make sense to you as it is used where you read it, don't just go and use it that way anyway. Even great writers make mistakes.
     
  7. Laureate
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    Laureate New Member

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    exactly. usually when you're searching for a word.. you know what you're searching for, it's almost subconscious. if you're ever struggling.. use a thesaurus site & when you find the perfect synonym it'll just click.

    everything doesn't need to be over the top, just remember that, bud.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Thesauruses have nasty teeth. If you DON'T know a word from a thesaurus already, and know it well, DON'T use it.

    You can always tell when a writer is pulling words out of a thesaurus. They don't fit properly.
     
  9. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    If you're not a reader, I can't imagine being a successful writer.

    My suggestion is to read more.

    If you have a busy schedule, audiobooks can help, especially if you commute, walk a dog, do gardening, or do laundry.

    (You can listen to audiobooks while shopping too, if you're not embarrassed to be seen with something in your ear, but please, shut it off at the checkout line so as not to frustrate other customers when the clerk asks for your club card or any other question.)

    Audiobooks are free to anyone with a library card and a CD player, cassette player, or one of those newfangled MP3 gadgets that we old folks haven't figured out yet.

    Regular books are also available for free at the library, and for sale, pretty much everywhere else.

    Charlie

    PS. Don't read the dictionary. The plot is very thin, the character development is poor, and the ending is predictable.
     
  10. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    To be a great writer you must be a good reader first. If you don't like reading that much, you'll probably never make it as a writer. Go read some books.
     
  11. Demief
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    Demief Member

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    What i do is, whenever i come across an unknown word i write it down in one of my moleskine's and then look up the meaning later. I usually remember the word because of this effort and am able to use it where and when it fits.
     
  12. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Readreadreadreadreadreadreadreadreadreadreadreadreadreadreadreadreadreadreadreadread.

    Its the only way to build your vocabulary.
     
  13. sorites
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    sorites Senior Member

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    Sometimes when I'm writing in Word, I'll highlight the word, right-click, and do Find Synonyms for 'word'. That can help you find the word you're looking for. Ultimately, it comes down to how it sounds. I've gotten into the habit of reading what I've written out loud and if it sounds clunky when I read it aloud, I'm more apt to tweak the sentence so it sounds better. That might mean finding a synonym or it could mean rewriting/rephrasing the sentence.
     
  14. UnknownBearing
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    UnknownBearing Contributing Member

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    i actually hadn't thought about the range of my vocabulary before... huh.

    i guess that's where it came from.
     
  15. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    This. But also, READ!!!! A LOT!!!!
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    How do you come up with interesting words?

    ...i know them... and if i can't recall one, i browse through a thesaurus for reminders...

    ...how i got to know them was by reading all i could get my hands on, since i first learned how to read... and yes, i've even browsed through the dictionary many a time...
     
  17. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Stephen King says, he writes with the words he knows at the time. As his vocabulary grows, he has more words to write with.
     
  18. Tall and Weird
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    Tall and Weird New Member

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    A writer with a small vocabulary is a thing without things.

    :p
     
  19. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    "The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—'tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.
    —Mark Twain, American writer and journalist

    Sometimes when I'm writing, I'll try to use a word, and then frown, because the one I used doesn't just seem adequate somehow. As a writer you must hone that sense so that when you write something that you feel is lacking it will force you to frown and peel into a dictionary. Most words we learn are "heard", but in everyday usage we only use a short list of common words, common phrases, idioms, maxims, etc.

    Read read read, then write write write.

    Let you be the judge of which words are right and which are merely alright. Let the readers judge your writing when your work is done.:cool:
     
  20. Nervous1st
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    Nervous1st Senior Member

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    This is exactly what I do.
     
  21. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Reading is the best form of vocab assimilation.

    And I keep telling myself that but honestly I have a very short attention span, and while I do start reading many books, I finish less than 10% of them. However, most of the stuff I read is fantasy, and while I may stop after the first twenty pages (and that's being optimistic), each one of those pages is usually abundant with words I may not be totally familiar with. Fantasy writers seem to have this tendency to use obscure words rather frequently.

    Anyway, I'm not sure if its available for other PDA type devices but dictionary.com has a free application for the iphone, which basically is one of the most comprehensive word databases in the world, and it's got a thesaurus as well. I just punch in the word and get the definition as well as sample sentences.

    And the best part: it's got a history of all the words you've ever looked up so whenever you've got nothing to do, no matter where you are, you can take a quick recap of the words you've learned for the week.

    And that's why even if I'm bored stiff with the book I'm reading, it's still a worthwhile activity.
     
  22. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    I use dictionary.com quite often. (Not on the iphone, but on the internet.)

    I also signed up for a daily e-mail from dictionary.com. Every day, I read the "word of the day." Fun hobby, but in the end it did little for my vocabulary. I either forget the word the moment I close the e-mail, or I already knew it. Once in a while there's a word I wondered about, and I learned it there, so it's not totally in vain. If I learned just a few words by this method, it's worth it.
     
  23. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I do read through dictionaries frequently. I also bought a book called something like 1001 words every smart person should know. There were a lot of words I didn't know in there. It was rather useful. But really the only way to learn the descriptive words so that they stick is reading them in other's writings.
     
  24. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Yay! Today I used lest while I wrote!
    Sometimes, there are some words I like but never use, and soon afterward they come to my head naturally as I write. I love when that happens, as I feel they had become part of my ever-growing list of words. :)
     

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