1. MatrixGravity
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    MatrixGravity Senior Member

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    Professional Writers hear me out..

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MatrixGravity, Feb 25, 2011.

    I don't understand. My vocabulary is above average, and yet i have trouble conveying my thoughts accordingly. There are so many freaking terms out there that i have to remember..I think my problem is.. I should spend less time trying to broaden my vocabulary, and more time trying to practice sentence structure you know? I actually own a book that guarentee's you'll develop a college level vocabulary and be a prolific writer in as little as three months.
    I've read about a chapter so far and it's great. Do you guys think I should continue reading it?I mean.. theres only getting better from here am i right? I already have an entire arsenal of words at my disposal, and i feel that through reading that book religiously i can increase it ten fold. Please give me some words of encouragement. I'm sick of feeling so stressed out.I'm always under pressure, and mainly because of my poor writing ability.
    Their are just so many phrases i have to memorize and it's difficult to remember them all..
    So many words sound so identical and it's hard to distinguish between each and every one of them. i.e, (tranquility,peace,harmony) these terms are all identical yet why have separate words for each of them... it just really bugs me. I'm not trying to get better at writing so i can become a writer, i just want to be proficient at it. No specific reason. Just something i take great pride in doing.
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    If it helps you, of course keep reading it.

    Another major part of writing is show, not tell. No matter how great your vocab is, readers like action illustrated to them, and they prefer inferring things (like character personality) on their own, not having things spelled out for them - just keep that in mind.

    Another thing to keep in mind is dialogue and keeping it realistic, the way people actually talk.

    The best way to be a good writer is to write a lot. Grammar/vocab books are great and helpful, but won't make you skillful unless you practice.It's like how you could study as many anatomy books as you want, but I'm not going to let you operate on me unless you've gone to med school and practiced for real.

    Trust me -- the stuff like finding the right words and setting the right tone are the easy parts of creative fiction writing. Easy how? Because they're easy to tweak. The hard parts are the plot holes, the writers' block, the not knowing what your characters can do next. This is the stuff that leads to major chops and rewrites (and pulling your hair out). Once you push past this stuff, you can go backand improve quality at the end. The more you write, the better the quality will be.

    In the end, the only way to be a writer is to write.
     
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  3. MatrixGravity
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    MatrixGravity Senior Member

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    Hey thanks so much dude! I'll definitely keep everything you said in mind!
    Writing is something that i really strive to ...accomplish?
    obtain? see this is always my problem. i can never find the right word :(..
    I'm not really satisfied with the current level of writing that i possess. i need to aim higher.
    I just need too. I really hope the book will do me good!
     
  4. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    The only way to accomplish being a writer is to quickly choose a word, move on, and write. :)
     
  5. MatrixGravity
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    MatrixGravity Senior Member

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    Yeah I suppose that's how it should be! Good tip man! I really need to stick to that book though!
    I mean.. it's chockfulled of brilliant words that can really give your vocabulary a boost!
    Although there are some words out there that i still have trouble using in my sentences.
    I just.. I just want to be a good writer, so i can be good at debates. So if anybody were to oppose me, i'd be able to overpower them with my impressive vocabulary and make them hit the road.
    There's actually a great example of that on this website. Please read this and you'll understand what i'm trying to go for!

    http://www.27bslash6.com/foggot.html

    The man with the black hair in the picture on the site is David Thorne.
    As you can see, that's one of his many hate mails he has received and it's funny how he belittles that person in the most extraordinary way. If you read it all the way through, you'll understand what i mean.
    He just redirects it back at him and make's him feel like a total imbecile!
    As you can see, that's what the power of huge vocabulary can grant you :). The satisfaction of defeating your opposing enemy like that. I just WISH that i knew how to write like that.
     
  6. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    Having a large vocabulary is only useful in so many situations...To be clear, there is nothing wrong with having a broad base with vocabulary. Nothing wrong at all.

    Key is >> Words are tools to be used at the right time to get the desired effect.

    Knowing many words or 'fancy words' is good to have in your arsenal. The quality of the vocabulary will help communicate. You will help you guide the reader.

    More important than actual words is to understand how to convey emotions. It can take very few and simple words to convey a strong emotion.

    Lyricists are kings of this skill. A very complex emotion needs to be stated in just a few words. Read the lyrics to the Beatles 'Yesterday'. So few lyrics but very effective.

    Focus not on how many words you know but how you convey what you intend to feel or be felt. Words will come if allow yourself to be a sponge.
     
  7. lost123
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    lost123 Senior Member

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    If you don't use the word in a sentence then you probably don't know what the word means.
    To learn a word:
    1.Know the definition of the word.
    2.Write ten sentences using that word.


    This method is powerful, few months after I used it, I started to feel the change.

    "The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way.”
    TaZa
    Robert Kiyosaki quotes
     
  8. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your problem is this ^
    Nip it fast.

    Do you talk to your friends in this way?

    Just write:
    I try hard to succeed in my writing. / I am desperate to write well. (Or something of that sort.)

    There you go--clear as day.

    Use the fancy words sparingly, and NEVER if you are not 100% sure of their application. Before anyone says 'it's boring/infantile to use simple words' look around you at the brilliant writers who use clear-cutting modern English well--it could change your life.

    And it will free you up to write more fluently and stop people who read your work going 'Er...what exactly did you mean to say here?'
     
  9. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Read some Steinbeck. That if anything will teach you that conveying the message is about choosing the right words.

    If you think it fun to broaden vocabulary, do it. Language is fun. But as a writer I would say that your writing will be better if you use the language that comes neutral to you in a as clear and elegant way as possible.
    Think about it like this, a singer sings in the voice that he or she naturally possess, they might train their voices to use it most effectively and sing in tune etc. But if you got a natural deep bass voice, use that, rather then trying to sing a high pitch counter tenor.
     
  10. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Excellent advice. I agree.
     
  11. Terry D
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    Terry D Active Member

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    Whatever vocabulary you have is enough to write effectively, if you use the words you know precisely and choose them carefully.

    Some writers who have in their repertoire a plethora of verbage, a veritable corucopia of linguistic accumen, are apt to fill the page with semantic varriations and permutations in an effort to expose, even to celebrate, the last vestige of their eriudition.

    Other writers use the words they have to create an effect within the reader, like a two-hundred pound heavy-weight putting out your lights with an uppercut to the jaw.

    Some writers say what they mean.
     
  12. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    While vocabulary--getting the correct word--is important, it isn't the only thing. Grammar and sentence structure are important too. But they're also not going to do it all. Dialogue and characterization, for example, are important. But they're also not going to carry a writer to the end. All of those are tools used to tell a story. In the end, telling a good story is the ultimate factor to success.

    You cannot succeed without the proper tools, but you have to know how to use those tools to build the story.

    That is where reading and practice come in. Reading, not just for enjoyment, but to study how other successful writers told a story. And practice--writing and rewriting, and writing some more.

    It doesn't hurt to have a strong vocabulary--it will help. But one of the most effective ways to learn new words is to encounter them in context, which reading would accomplish.

    The last item I'd add is that when there is a clearer, more direct word, or a less common word that would be equally precise or proper to be used within a story, unless there's a compelling reason, the more common word should prevail. Yes, there are many examples and exceptions, but if you litter a work with too many uncommon, or exotic words, then it can detract from the story. Examples where exceptions would dictate the vocabulary used? Genre and audience matter and certainly would influence the vocabulary used.

    Just my two cents.
     
  13. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    Maybe this will help.

    You have built up alot of good words, and can't find a way to put them together.

    Much like a person with the best of fabric, the best sewing machine, all the best equipment, will never produce anything of value until he/she practices putting the pieces together in all the right spots, just the right decorative flap, or sewing design here, not to much, just enough, comfortable but beautiful.
    That is the job of the writer. Put the peices together in a way that the reader will want to continue to follow the weave of your story, rather then discard the work for a better one.

    You have invested in words and their meanings, now invest in ways to weave those words into a work of art.
    Webster has a great book, but not many read it cover to cover.
     
  14. fritzie
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    fritzie New Member

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    Vocabulary building

    Do make sure as part of your work on your writing to spend time reading great writing.
    I find reading collections of short stories very useful for this purpose, because you can experience different styles of writing one after another.
    You didn't mention whether English is your native language. If it is, you probably have a quite adequate vocabulary in English to begin to write. When you use a word that doesn't seem quite right for the context, you might want to underline it with the intention to look at synonyms later that may match your meaning better than what initially flowed from your pen.
    I am worried from your post that you are overemphasizing the quality of individual words and overlooking the greater importance of how you combine words to express your thoughts.
    I agree with the earlier post that contructing a plot that you can unveil cleverly and developing characters who are sufficiently complex to be interesting are more important to the writer than a huge vocabulary.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    first, must come 'READ a lot'!

    read constantly, the works of the best writers, to absorb what good writing looks/reads/sounds/feels like... do that long enough, and when you read [or write] something that's not very good, you'll be able to tell the difference...
     
  16. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Must disagree, Maia. The best way to improve a skill is to use that skill, not observe the results of someone else using it. Reading never hurts (for most people), and you can pick up some useful tips that way, but those tips are only useful if you really know what you yourself are doing. As such, I would never say reading comes first.

    For an example of the oddity that is me, I've noticed that the quality of my writing invariably takes a steep drop whenever I start reading something I like, because it's easier to get absorbed into someone else's world than it is to create your own. I can lose myself in some stranger's story for hours at a time, and it shows whenever I attempt to write something while I'm lost. Then, after I finish whatever I was reading, it takes a while for my writing to get back to a level of quality I'm comfortable with. So in a way, for me, reading is actually detrimental to my own work. For a short time.
     
  17. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, everyone is empathizing reading, and reading and reading. I hope we don't lose sight of the fact of the basis of human language is speech, and listening and this might be even more important then reading.
     
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  18. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good writing is not about fancying up your vocabulary, any more than good cooking is about learning what to do with truffles or caviar. You can produce delicious food with entirely familiar ingredients and a mastery of basic principles, and you can produce good writing with everyday words and, again, a mastery of basic principles.

    So if your goal is to improve your writing as quickly as possible, I wouldn't focus on vocabulary, I'd focus on just writing, lots and lots and lots of writing. And also lots of reading. _Grammar_ matters, and sentence structure, and all sorts of things about how to arrange and structure those plain everyday words, but deliberately setting out to improve your vocabulary is, IMO, low on the list of priorities.

    In fact, it may come naturally before it ever appears on the list, because I _would_ put a high priority on doing a lot of reading, and reading will, among other things, naturally increase your vocabulary.

    ChickenFreak
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    kp...

    please note that the key word in my post is 'first'...

    if you hadn't first seen/studied/examined well-designed buildings, how would you know how to design or build one?... would you have any clue to what the skills are, that you would 'use' to do so?... or how to acquire them?

    if you didn't first watch ballet dancers, or figure skaters, or athletes, would you be able to 'use the skills' and be one?
     
  20. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I would agree that both perfecting the skill by writing and reading are necessary. Personally, I make an effort not to read anything while I'm working on lengthy writing projects because I tend to mirror the styles/voices I read for a short while after reading, which can definitely be damaging to your story. However, reading is a requirement for good writing. As mammamaia pointed out, most everything you do is the result of watching someone else do it or something similar first. Aspiring musicians study how the rock stars, elite pianists, etc., out there do it, just as football players study the plays and tactics of those who came before them. Broken down to its bare minimum, writing is just another one of these things that requires a lot of practice and observation to perfect.

    That doesn't mean you need to read every single thing you can get your hands on, but variety is nice. I would suggest not to only read in the specific genre you have chosen to write in either, but in all genres. Most of all, read the books and stories you enjoy. (For me, I tend to gain a lot more from reading a good story than I do from a how-to book on writing.)

    Also, don't worry much about vocabulary. Personally, I don't like reading material with an abundance of five dollar words situated throughout it. Also, don't expect to produce a superb, quality writing straight out of the gate. I think the biggest thing anyone could have told me when starting out is to have patience with the process of learning how to write, not that I would have listened, but the process does take some time. It doesn't come to you overnight, but once you have it, it doesn't go away either. :)
     
  21. Chronopunk
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    Chronopunk Member

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    Do you really mean that you want a good vocabulary so you can beat people up? That's not how it works, son. You remind me of Ed Gruberman.

    The best word to use is the shortest one that means exactly what you say. Vocabulary is one of the least important tools in the writer's toolbox.
     
  22. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    David Thorne wasn't trying to demonstrate his superior vocabulary. He was poking fun at a troll. Basically, trolling the troll.

    I don't know what you would consider a 'superior' vocabulary. Knowing lots of big words and techical terms doesn't do you a bit of good if the reader doesn't understand you. They might be troubled to look up a word or two, but if you start using uncommon words left and right, the reader won't bother finishing your book.

    Having a large vocabulary makes you a good storyteller about as much as having a high intelligence makes you wise.
     
  23. kaylynwrong
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    kaylynwrong Member

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    Write in a way that feels natural to you. Big words aren't required. In all honesty, I avoid reading books with too many words I don't know, or have to think about. It's just annoying. If you litter your writing with SAT words every other sentence or so, you've already lost a lot of your potential audience.

    Read a lot, but not "how to write" books. Don't trust any book that promises to make you a great writer in 3 months. Read genres you like and want to write in. See what works and what doesn't. Then write. You have to write to become a good writer. So toss out your how-to book and start reading and writing. Another user recommended listening. This is a great idea, particularly with dialogue. Dialogue has to be natural. So eavesdrop in public places and listen to how people talk. Pretend you are reading-no one will ever know you listened in on their conversation.
     
  24. 4trevor
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    4trevor New Member

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    Honestly, I wouldn't worry about it..in order to learn how to write, you have to be a prolific reader, so while you're reading or listening to audiobooks, if you come across a word you don't know, write it down and any others and look them up later that night while the usage is still fresh in your mind..it's like anything in life, it's a growing process..don't study SAT books or whatever to build your vocab, just read and learn as you go, and spend the extra time you have writing more often..and, you don't have to be a vocabulary wizard to be a great writer..ever heard of a guy called Charles Bukowski? Chuck Palahniuk? Stephen King? Funny thing about King I noticed listening to some of his books, he will noticeably use a word a dozen or so times in a book, a more sophisticated word..like he just learned it and is putting it to use..strange, but true. It's been a month or so, so I can't cite any examples, but if you read or listen attentively, you'll see writers doing this a lot.
     
  25. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just been reading a book where the word 'mendaciously' comes up at least five times. Even though it's used correctly every time, it annoys me to see a fairly unusual word cropping up again and again. Even phrases that are common, like 'set in motion' grate if, as in the book I'm reading now, the writer has it twice in the same chapter--that's just sloppy editing.
     

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