1. Endeavour
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    Endeavour Senior Member

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    How To?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Endeavour, Oct 25, 2007.

    At times when I put an idea on paper, things don't quite work out as I originally planned to because of a lack of vocabulary. This doesn't always mean adjectives but also nouns and object names. Does anyone experience the same problem? And how do you tackle it?
     
  2. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    Google (for definitions), thesaurus and an encyclopedia (like Wikipedia) are your best friends when it comes to these issues. I have this problem once is a while, and for finding new words, I experiment with spellings. e.g. I'd type porkefty and check in Microsoft thesaurus for corrections. Sometimes I actually find I word I'm looking for, other times I find a word which would be helpful in writing the sentence in a different way. As far as nouns are concerned, I run short of nouns when it comes to magical stuff. I don't know the medieval weapons, so I used google and wikipedia for it. For army posts, ranks and other similar information, you can simply use google tactfully or ask someone like on these forums.

    I hope you found my babbling helpful.
     
  3. Skipdonahue
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    Skipdonahue Member

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    I find that sometimes I have a better vocabulary than others. Just the other day I was reading over some stuff I wrote earlier this year and I thought, "Wow, I actually used those words to say that successfully and it WORKED?" I can't ever imagine myself using them now, even though I'd like to, but I'm sure my past self would say the same of my present and future self... Ok I'm confused.

    Yeah, thesaurus and google definitions are very useful tools. I use them daily when I write. Not excessively, but they are always open in the background.

    Don't use a long, haughty word just to use it either. While you need to respect your reader's intelligence, don't make them read your book with a dictionary handy. That's just annoying!

    Skip
     
  4. secularzarathustra
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    secularzarathustra Member

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    Be careful, when using thesauri, that you actually mean what you say. As someone who has graded student written papers, it can be easy to tell--in an ilk manner with Cliff's Notes--when someone just looks up and inserts a synonym.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with this, it is important to find examples of the word in context to find out its connotation (shades of meaning) in addition to the denotation (literal definition).

    For that reason. I love learning new words, but that doesn't mean I rush right out to use them before the paint dries on them. The best word is often a commonly used one, partnered with its surrounding words to paint a clear image. And the Thesaurus is a great place to remind you of that perfect, simple word that was dancing on the edge of your peripheral vision.
     
  6. secularzarathustra
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    secularzarathustra Member

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    I'd like to add one thing, a personal preference shared by others as diverse as Orwell, Kipling, Borges, &c. When using new words check out the etymology, if you cannot immediately figure out the word's origins. English is a Germanic language and not a Latinate, so use Anglo-Saxon words whenever possible. Latinate words have a different cadence, stress, and alter the flow and make it much less effective. I'm not saying never use Latinates, they can be valuable; however, consider them in the same manner as you would passive verbs.
     
  7. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Try reading a dictionery... or better yet... just putting it in your own words.
    You are writting to entertain, not writing to impress.

    That's quite good advice actually.
     
  8. Endeavour
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    Endeavour Senior Member

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    Are there any good online sources that allow me to check the etymology of words?
     
  9. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Dictionary.com usually has (brief) notes on etymology of words, if I remember rightly.
     
  10. Endeavour
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    Endeavour Senior Member

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    Thanks Banzai. I think the Oxford dictionary also has brief notes on etymology of words.

    I just did some searching and found the following link that is entirely dedicated to etymology (not sure how reliable it is though):

    Online Etymology Dictionary
     
  11. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    It looks pretty good, Endeavour. I'll add it to my list of resorces. Thanks :)
     

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