1. ZombieHappyMeal
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    ZombieHappyMeal Member

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    Vocabulary & Grammar

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by ZombieHappyMeal, Nov 22, 2011.

    I feel, a lot of the time, that my writing vocabulary is not as large as I would like it to be. Often times, when I'm reading, I will come across a word that I can define, but would never think to use in my own writing. I am still up in the air as to whether or not this is a bad thing. I suppose the "style" of a writer is marked by the words he/she chooses to use, but when I come across a beautiful word I can't help but envy the writer that chooses to use it. I feel like I have a fairly extensive vocabulary, but it never comes across in my writing. Does anyone else have this problem? Is it a problem at all? Do any of you use a thesaurus when you write? Are there ways to improve your writing vocabulary? I know that this is a strange question, but how do you train yourself to find those pulchritudinous words in the penetralia of your brain?

    The other thing that I wanted to ask about is grammar. Again, I don't feel like I am completely lost when it comes to grammar, but I know that I make quite a few mistakes. I am always afraid that when I submit a short story to a publisher, they are going to reject it because of spelling errors or punctuation problems. Is there some sort of "Grammar Bible" that professional writers use to correct their manuscripts? If not, can any of you point me in the direction of some good resources where I can learn better grammar?

    Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and I look forward to your responses,

    ZHM
     
  2. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I have the same problem you do when it comes to words. For now the way I "solve" the problem is to just use the words I know and deal with the consequences. I do use a thesaurus when I write, but I also know that you can't just substitute one word for another and move on. But it does help me recall words that I might already know the meaning of... but just wouldn't have thought of on the spot. For example, when describing someone that has kind of an upbeat or positive personality, without a thesaurus I would probably just use those words and that would be the end of it. But with a thesaurus I might discover words like "lively" or "vivacious" that I already know about but just don't use in context.

    I think one idea I'm going to try is to just compile a list of words that I know I don't use in my vocabulary a lot (how I compile this list is another question all together... maybe someone could help me out there). If I don't know the definition of the word, learn it. But if I do and it's just one of those things where I don't think to use it in a story, maybe every day I'll take three of the words on my list and throughout the day try to work them into what is going on that day. If you write on a daily basis (on this forum for example), maybe make a game out of trying to find ways to slip these three words in a forum post and make it sound natural. Or maybe if are in the middle of writing a story, try to find an excuse to use one of the words there. But I guess the point is that the more you use these words in context, the easier it is to remember them.

    Again, the difficult thing there might be compiling the list in the first place. I'm sure there's some kind of "word a day" email newsletter you could have emailed to you every day.

    As for your question about grammar help. I might use a program like Microsoft Word when writing, because it's good about correcting things like verb noun confusion, fragmented sentences, etc that are common grammar mistakes. It won't correct everything, and sometimes something that is wrong from a grammar point of view might not be necessarily bad for a fiction book. I've heard that a lot of writers use fragmented sentences a lot in their writing.
     
  3. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I so can relate to that feeling, I had the same one earlier this year, and i think I actually posted a thread on it too, ;)
    I think it's common to have an 'active' and a 'latent' vocabulary, some words are the ones you use in daily speech and when you write, and some of them you know them when you see them but you wouldn't use them yourself. I think this can improve by reading a lot, and of different writer and genres. I believe if you hear these ones enough times you will start to incorporate them in your own writing too, without even noticing it.
     
  4. Nicholas C.
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    Nicholas C. Active Member

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    As far as grammar reference sites go, you really can't beat the Owl...

    http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/1/5/
     
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