1. MistKestrel
    Offline

    MistKestrel Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2012
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0

    Overuse of a Thesarus?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MistKestrel, Jul 31, 2012.

    Do you think when trying to write a detailed story, you can over use a thesarus too much? Can it interrupt the flow of your writing?
     
  2. Luna13
    Offline

    Luna13 Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Messages:
    136
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    The Desk Chair
    Definitely. Do not overuse the thesaurus. When used properly, it can help enhance your details, but obviously "she walked quickly across the yard" is better than "she danced rapidly transversely the enclosure," which does not even make sense. So yes, thesauruses (thesauri?) can be overused, but if your just looking to replace a simple word, it's fine.
     
  3. Youniquee
    Offline

    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2010
    Messages:
    733
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Under your bed.
    Yes, it's called Purple Prose and it's pretty horrible. You don't need big words to make your writing sound detailed.

    Use it once in while. If you really want to expand your vocabulary, read more. It's a more natural way of learning what words to use and how to use them.
     
  4. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Sure , especially someone whose starting out and wants to sound impressive. He or she will try to avoid repeat words like said and clutter
    up speeches with a lot of odd modifiers. Or choose fancy sounding words that muffle the intention of the sentence.

    The goal is precision - but that doesn't mean your prose can't be poetic. Reading poetry will actually help you to connect
    imagery / metaphors to feelings - and weaving this into your story will help cut down a lot of clutter.

    If you don't understand ,exactly, what a word means - look it up, and make sure it fits your sentense before using it.

    Thesaurus entries aren't just a list of words that can be easily substituted for the initial entry.

    Run gives a lot of choices but a writer who tells up his hero 'galloped to the store' is confusing the reader
    with his choice - why gallop? if he's in a hurry sprinted might've been a better choice.
     
  5. MistKestrel
    Offline

    MistKestrel Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2012
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the helpful advice. I thought you could overuse a thesaurus, but I wanted to make sure. It's since at school their always telling you, don't always reuse the same words etc. So it makes you feel like you always have to use a Thesarus.
     
  6. Thornesque
    Offline

    Thornesque Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2012
    Messages:
    456
    Likes Received:
    71
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Well it is important not to reuse words. It's one of my biggest pet peeves and also something I'm a HUGE criminal of. And a thesaurus can really help. But you can reuse a word, as long as it's not too close together.
     
  7. D. Ayers Gray
    Offline

    D. Ayers Gray Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2012
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Sadly, I do use the thesaurus too much. Generally, not during writing. I use it for titles. I have a thing for one word titles.
     
  8. B93
    Offline

    B93 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    Messages:
    297
    Likes Received:
    32
    You should use a thesaurus liberally, to remind you of the BEST word, not the most flowery. If you don't know the definitions of all the words the thesaurus gives you, look them up to learn them. Then judge which fits best in the story.
     
  9. mickaneso
    Offline

    mickaneso Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2012
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    0
    Stephen King says the first word that comes to your head is often the right word. You use a thesaurus when you can feel like there's a word at the back of your mind and feel like the word you're using isn't quite what you want.
     
  10. captain kate
    Offline

    captain kate Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Messages:
    876
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Cruising through space.
    I agree with that in many ways too. However, if I want to adjust a word, I've found google to be very useful to give a definition and from there, a choice can be made. Most of the times, the first word, like King says, it the right one...even if it's a choice word.
     
  11. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I find a thesaurus very useful. It makes a fine paperweight for a stack of loose papers to keep them from scattering in the breeze.

    On very rare occasions, I blow the dust off it and use it to cure a brain fart when I can't put my finger on that perfect word taunting me from the edges of my brain. I never, ever use it to choose words I am not already 100% familiar with.

    I can always tell when a writer is writing from a thesaurus. Always. It's never a pretty sight.
     
  12. ink_slinger
    Offline

    ink_slinger Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    2
    I would have to agree with everyone's previous statements. Unless a word is eluding you, the thesaurus is best left for school papers when you need to raise your word count. Simple is often best, and there is nothing worse than looking back on an old work and seeing a word you used incorrectly. Writing, with very few exceptions, should be in YOUR voice. Look at Hemingway. Short, simple sentences, common words, and he remains one of the most famous and widely read authors in the world. It's important to be comfortable with words, and is arguably the key to being a good writer. That's why the key to writing well is writing often. Practice makes finding the right word easier.
     
  13. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,984
    Likes Received:
    5,503
    What they tell you at school is not always what works in real life. :)

    At school, they're probably trying to build your vocabulary--not only for writing, but for reading and for taking standardized tests. That is, I admit, just a guess. For reading and standardized tests, knowing more and more words is always useful. For writing, _using_ more and more words is not always useful.

    And in fact, you should never use a word in your writing that you learned entirely from a thesaurus or dictionary. (OK, maybe it's good for points in school right now, but keep in mind that the day will come when you need to break the habit.) Words have nuances that a thesaurus and dictionary just can't give you. The best way to acquire new words is to encounter them in your reading, complete with context, rather than in a thesaurus.

    Also, when you realize that you're overusing a word, the solution is often not to replace it with a synonym from the thesaurus, but to actually rewrite. As a very simplistic example:

    He walked up to the house. The house was big and shabby, but it was a nice, storybook sort of house. When he walked up the steps of the house, he paused to listen. From inside the house, he heard an odd keening sound.

    There are too many uses of the word "house" here, but if you went on a thesaurus hunt to replace them, the paragraph would be even worse:

    He walked up to the house. The dwelling was big and shabby, but it was a nice, storybook sort of enclosure. When he walked up to the steps of the cottage, he paused to listen. From inside the building, he heard an odd keening sound.

    Eew.

    Instead, you want to rewrite. A possible rewrite is:

    He walked slowly as he approached the house, taking time to study it. Big, shabby, paint peeling, but it had a storybook mood that he liked. He climbed the steps to the porch and then paused, frowning. From within, he could hear an odd keening sound.

    The rewrite isn't brilliant; it's just provided to demonstrate that you can stop repeating a word _or_ any synonyms of that word, by rephrasing.
     
  14. EldritchDwarf
    Offline

    EldritchDwarf New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2012
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes the thesaurus can be over used, but it does have its uses. If you do plan on using the thesaurus it should be to convey an extra bit of meaningful information, and remove any unnecessary adjectives and adverbs.

    Which sounds better? The zombies walked slowly up the steps or the zombies shambled up the steps?
     
  15. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I wouldn't use a thesaurus to come up with that. I'd use my internal vocabulary database.
     
  16. Ambition101
    Offline

    Ambition101 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2012
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    I'd rate a dictionary over a thesaurus because one gives you a definite definition, usage, etc. and the other gives you a variety of substitutes but does not warn you of varying connotations and subtle differences in appropriate usage of the alternative words. However, you could use them together to find that right word. A thesaurus by itself, though, is not a great help.
     
  17. Kenn
    Offline

    Kenn Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2012
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am guilty of checking the Thesarus constantly when writing, but not always falling for a different word.
     

Share This Page