1. MatrixGravity
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    MatrixGravity Senior Member

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    Whats the best way for me to replace little words with other synoynms?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by MatrixGravity, May 18, 2011.

    I want to replace little words in my vocabulary with more advanced ones like for example,

    Start --> Initiate
    Hardly --> Seldomly
    Eat --> Devour,Consume
    Understand --> Interpret,Fathom
    Angry/Violent --> Hostile
    Important --> Crucial,Imperative,Vital
    Puzzled --> Perplexed
    Gone down -->Subsided,Receded,Diminished,
    Taken place ---> Transpired


    See? Is there a certain technique I can use to be able to do this and to keep these words in mind when trying to convey my thoughts?
     
  2. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    I don't know about that. Other than just using them, reading, the other things people have told you in previous threads, but I do want to point out one thing....

    Seldom, not seldomly
     
  3. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    Read a lot. Look up words you don't recognize in the dictionary. Make flashcards with definitions of words you don't know and study them. Read some more.
     
  4. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    Using the thesaurus is the only method I use.

    On a more serious note, one thing to remember is not to overuse the advanced vocabulary, because it turns people off. The reader is there to read a story, not to read an academic paper. If "sad" will work, then use that instead of "lugubrious" or "lachrymose". Certain genres or audiences might appreciate the inclusion of more advanced vocabulary, but even they have their limits. After all, if you use a bunch of words that nobody has heard of except for a few scholars, then you might as well write your story in Swahili or Aramaic or something.

    Still, the list of words you gave above aren't really that obscure anyways, so I guess a decent rule of thumb is that if you understand it and you know that most people would probably understand it, then the word should be fine. Also be aware of subtle differences between words, too; "happy" and "ecstatic" are not the same thing, for instance.
     
  5. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    I wouldn't recommend using a thesaurus or trying to intentionally use more sophisticated words a) already have a wide vocabulary and are just using a thesaurus for brainstorming/reminder sort of a thing and know how and when to use more sophisticated language (read as: if you need a thesaurus to do so, you don't) or b) are intentionally trying to make a piece sound overwrought and a parody of sophistication.

    I've seen a lot of manuscripts that the writer obviously had a heavily worn thesaurus, trying to up-sell words for bigger, smarter, more sophisticated ones and it's rarely good. It's like child stumbling around in mommies high heels.

    Great writers use simple, honest, straightforward language so the magic is in the meanings those words evoke through clarity, not the meanings of the advanced or 'smart' words themselves.
     
  6. JMTweedie
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    JMTweedie Senior Member

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    A tip from me - use the simplest from of the words in your first draft, there's no need to complicate things at this stage, it just slows you down.

    When you edit you will notice when a word needs to be changed to a more descriptive form but not all changes are descriptive, so watch out for that.

    For example:

    devour is a far more descriptive word than eat, you can picture devour, but...

    Initiate isn't really more descriptive than start, unless you're using it for other reasons like religious ceremonies etc or as a noun - an initiate.

    I try to remember my target audience, what do they read?, What type of speech do they use in every day life?

    I read a book recently that was full of complicated descriptive words and I found it akin to swimming in mud. I even had to look a couple up, which for an avid reader of most genres, is unheard of for me.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think that this is a good idea. Those words are not more advanced, they're just different. And if they don't come naturally to you, then you probably won't use them naturally, and your writing will be worse, not better.

    The best way to improve your vocabulary, and every other aspect of your writing, is to read. I don't mean read the dictionary or a thesaurus, or an "improve your vocabulary" book, I mean just books. Novels, essays, _books_.

    So I'm going to move on to unsolicited advice again:

    I've been advising you all this time to stop doing all this prep work with dictionaries and vocabulary exercises, and just write. And it appears to me that you're not writing, because none of your questions appear to be about writing - they all appear to be about vocabulary exercises. So for some reason, it seems that you don't want to write yet. I don't know why, but that's none of my business.

    So I'm going to change my advice: If you're not going to write yet, then _read_. Nothing will improve your eventual writing more than reading. Nothing will improve your vocabulary, and give you a more complete and true understanding of all these words, more than reading.

    Read.

    Or write.

    But abandon the vocabulary exercises!

    ChickenFreak
     
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  8. MatrixGravity
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    MatrixGravity Senior Member

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    Well I mean I'm not planning to write books, or be a writer at all. I just want to improve my writing overall. Not for any specific purpose. Thanks for the tip though.
     
  9. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Regardless of what you've said there or whether you are planning to be a writer, the following two pieces of (paraphrased) advice are brilliant.

    The first is from my year seven teacher, Mr. Grant. Every fortnight, we'd have to write a two-page story, and one of his biggest pet peeves was the use of the word "nice". He'd read that and he'd say, "Cream buns are nice." Given our young age, we had vocabularies that were not that spectacular. He taught us to respect the power of a large vocabulary.

    Someone else gave me this second; they said, "Usually the word you think of first is the one that you meant." That is to say, when you have a large enough vocabulary, you won't have to use a thesaurus because you understand the minutiae of a word's definition enough to use it properly the first time.
    If you use a thesaurus, you may get a synonym, but it may not be the correct word for the context.

    Finally, a bit of advice from myself: keep in mind that in this modern era, writing is not as profuse as it once was. A novel written like something from the 1700's is not going to read as easily as something from the 1950's or later.
    You need to keep in mind that words like "initiate" (verb) are not in our every day usage and will not look good on the page when you could have just said "start" or something similar. First, use words that make sense, and second, use words that are in a more general lexicon.
    (NOTE: I'm not advocating that you write like a moron just because the majority of readers don't have spectacular literacy themselves. I'm advocating the use of period-sensitive vocabulary.)
     
  10. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you made a good point here. substitute these words might be ok if as in the example of devour it is a more descriptive word, but if you just want to make it sound more 'posh' (lol) it probably isn't a good idea.
     
  11. NikkiNoodle
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    NikkiNoodle Active Member

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    The only thing I would say is beware; two words that have similar meanings can conjure different images when read and have little nuances that lend them more toward one usage than the other. Take devour and eat as examples. Both words mean to consume some type of edible, but devour carries a sense of almost gluttonous urgency with it, sometimes even destructive connotations depending on the context. You would imagine a starving wolf devouring a carcass, or a fire devouring a building while the commonplace "eat" wouldn't fit what was happening in the same way.
    Also, anger doesn't necessarily mean hostility.
    The best advice you've gotten so far, IMO, is to read. See where words are used and for what purposes. Great writing doesnt mean using big words, but using the RIGHT words to convey exactly what you mean.
     
  12. FiveWriter
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    FiveWriter Banned

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    As some of the other posters are saying, its not necessarily a good thing to change all your words to sound more descriptive. Often changing little words can change the whole flow of your story. If your a true writer, you should be able to just feel the words and let them flow. In my opinion, a lot of times the best word choice is your first word choice.
     
  13. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I agree with this. I used many words from the dictionary and thought that they were a replacement for repeating words. It was a mess too. Though I used clumsy and stumble, they have different meanings although they have the same content.
     

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