1. Subject24

    Subject24 Member

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    Writers reference sheet

    Discussion in 'By Writing Form' started by Subject24, Jul 4, 2018.

    Ok so I've been looking to put together a refference book of things i might need while writing stories. Something I realized early on in writing is that I'm always stumbling on coming up with the same types of small details.. Such as naming characters, or coming up with conjunctive adjectives that keep my sentences together, colorful, but still fresh and diverse. Never use the same adjective twice right? Well coming up with descriptions starts to become really annoying further down in the story..
    Because of stuff like that, I put together a small list of adjectives for taste description, sound(voice) description, and feeling description. I also had a name sheet going on for quickly naming peeps that appeared in my stories.

    But that's not enough for me.. I'm looking for more things a writer would need for quick reference..

    My question is what do you need? What would you want a writers reference document to gave in it for you? Stuff that could be used for a quick reference to help you fill in the spaces and gaps of your stories. I'd like to make my document as effective as possible, so what can you think of that I'm not??
     
  2. Subject24

    Subject24 Member

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    I just found an adjective site that listed several types of adjectives, and I added two of my own... But this is what I have so far.

    Color adjectives
    Texture adjectives
    Taste adjectives
    Character Appearance adjectives
    Setting appearence adjectives
    Positive Personality adjectives
    Negative personality adjectives
    Condition adjectives
    Shape adjectives
    Sound adjectives
    Voice adjectives
    Time adjectives
    Quantity adjectives
    Character action adjectives

    I would like to build on this list... Are there any types of things you commonly need described not on this list??
     
  3. noobienieuw

    noobienieuw Banned

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    Wouldn't a good thesaurus do the job. Of course you would have to know one of them to find the similar ones.
     
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  4. Subject24

    Subject24 Member

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    It would do the job, and it will do the job. But I still need ideas for the different types of adjectives that I will need to be making lists for

    For example, all stories for the most part have a fair amount of dialogue in them. Both before the quotation and after, there is usually a descriptive adjective for the way something is said.
    "Its in the cabinet next to the microwave!" Jane bellowed to James from the next room.
    Samuel whispered feverently back to Tom "I just don't think we should be in this area at this hour. What if we get kidnapped?"
    So a list of voice descriptions is where this would come from.
    "XXXXX" he/she ________. list

    And possibly a list of different voice tenses such as feverently/fumed/excitedly/exhuberently/sadly/
    "XXXXX" he/she said ________ly. List

    ***What other sorts of things commonly need descriptive conjunctions? is what I'm wondering(other than those I already have listed). And that's just the adjective part of the writing document.

    I also want to lay out some frame working for other things. Such as a science fiction directory, detailing science facts for scifi stories. A Fantasy directory for different types of commen magical/mythological creatures that have existed in history.

    So also what sort of references do you think would be helpful in other areas of story writing?

    I'm just trying to get a well rounded idea of what to put together.
     
  5. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    Hey Z, just write your stories. Don’t worry about the reference book, so much. Write short stories of 800 words in that Jack London style maybe? Reference books aren’t fun,
     
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  6. GB reader

    GB reader Senior Member

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    I will think about it.
    I have most problems finding words because English is not my native.

    But we do things differently. I never decorate dialogue tags with adjectives.
    Usually it's not a word I am looking for, it's a phrase.
     
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  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    The difficulty with this is that there shouldn't be. :) So I can't engage with this example, because it's encouraging a practice that I think is a bad idea. Oh, sure, sometimes you need to describe how something is spoken, but whenever possible, that should be something that you can determine from the words. (That is, the words of the dialogue.)

    The vast majority of dialogue should just have the tag 'said' and should not have any adverb at all. There are absolutely exceptions, but when there are exceptions, they should result from such a clear need that the solution should be fairly obvious.

    I suspect that my answer is "none".

    I can imagine that I might have use for a directory of technologies and when they came into common use--and if I'm wishing for things, references for expanded information about each one would be great. On the other hand, I can open a new tab and type "when were matches invented" and get confirmation that, as I suspected, I can't have matches in my WIP that's modeled after 18th century technology, because they were invented in the middle of the 19th century. But if I really really REALLY want matches, and my WIP is alternative-world, it would be handy to be pointed to a book about that technology, so I can see if the underlying technologies already existed and therefore decide if I can just declare that someone was extra clever.
     
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  8. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale The third pronunciation of "potato" Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Begging for attention from members who don't know you isn't how it's done around here, I'm passing on reading this.

    ETA: Sorry, sending PMs begging for attention. Didn't make that clear.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2018
  9. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Dude, just write the story. Trust me, I used to do what you’re doing right now — not worth it, my man.
     
  10. Andi. Just Andi.

    Andi. Just Andi. Active Member

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    Personally, I find trouble with the use of cliches in my stories and finding new, exciting ways to implement them. A good reference I've found to help me is this list of rants by a user named Limyaael. Here's the link, highly reccommend checking it out: https://curiosityquills.com/limyaael/

    By the way, you really shouldn't just message people out of the blue on here. Next time, just wait for people to go to you instead of messaging strangers randomly.
     
  11. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, it's not good etiquette.

    I actually did read your original post, but did not respond because a reference guide like this would be of no use to me. I rarely struggle with coming up with adjectives and descriptors; if anything I use too many of them and they have to be cut during the editing process.
     
  12. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah please don't spam people's inboxes asking for replies for your thread. If folks are interested and willing to help, they will reply. Sending a message begging for attention simply annoys.

    But I will help you out with this thread. My genuine answer: get writing and don't waste your time on this. Because if all you're doing is substituting one word for another in an attempt to make your writing more colourful, I can almost guarantee you the quality of your work will reflect this utter lack of thought.

    There's a reason why there are so many jokes about the theasuras. These things aren't a quick fix and repetition isn't always bad. You absolutely can use the same adjective twice, so long as they are not in the same line or paragraph, assuming the repetition wasn't deliberate. Certain words stand out more than others and thus can be repeated fewer times or used more carefully/sparingly.

    As for dialogue, the general rule of thumb is, don't get overly colourful with your tags because they almost always end up looking silly. I am not a subscriber of "never use anything other than said or asked", but tags should be used with care. A beat is better than a tag in conveying emotion generally. Adverbs are also to be used with care - use only if a stronger verb does not exist, and brevity or being succinct is important for the moment.

    So, there are no reference words. Each word should be used according to the scene and effect you are going for. It's like asking a painter, hey which colours do you use?

    Whichever ones the painting needs, of course.
     
  13. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    Yes, very naughty @Subject24
     
  14. Subject24

    Subject24 Member

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    Sorry if I disturbed you guys. I wasn't trying to intrude on anybodies situation. Just trying to get as many opinions as I can and I know that general writing isn't the most popular thread, so I figured I'd let some people know. I guess I might have been out of line to message people.. By the opinion count of 15 so far lol... Sorry, serious.

    Won't do it again I can promise you guys that. Sorry for the bother
     
  15. Subject24

    Subject24 Member

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    I was actually looking for something this in my last question

    I'm sorry. I was just trying to get some well thought answers
     
  16. noobienieuw

    noobienieuw Banned

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    Idioms can be hard for non native speakers.
     
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  17. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    @Subject24 , are you saying that this is something that YOU need, or something that you want to create?

    If you feel that you need it, I'm going to suggest that you really don't. You should be writing with your own vocabulary--vocabulary of words, ideas, phrases, situations, all of it.

    If you want to build that vocabulary, the best way to do so is to consume other people's fiction. Read novels--a whole lot of novels. And for the plot "vocabulary"--that is, plot ideas and concepts--you can also watch movies, TV, plays.
     
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  18. Awz

    Awz Member

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    Here are a couple of pages I have bookmarked for quick references on stuff like this. However, I usually write my story and worry about this stuff during editing unless I really want to nail a specific idea right now.

    http://www.spwickstrom.com/said/

    http://writerswrite.co.za/45-ways-to-avoid-using-the-word-very/

    https://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-slang/

    Hope these help.

    Also, read a lot. Keep a notebook handy. Sometimes I come across a word in someone else's writing that I like and write it down so I remember to use it somewhere.
     
  19. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Exactly right. The OP suggests what I can only call a "cookbook" approach to writing. I don't write that way. I don't have a formulaic approach to constructing sentences or dialogue, nor do I feel the need to consult a list of available adjectives for choice of the proper one. I write whatever one comes to mind while I am composing paragraph, and if I decide in reviewing it that I want another, I ponder the matter (and may consult a thesaurus if the word I know I'm looking for lies just beyond cognitive reach) until I am satisfied. On rare occasions, my mood may turn somewhat nasty.

    I find that I can often dispense with dialogue tags by combining action, thoughts and dialogue. It was my good friend @jannert who first pointed out to me (in my own writing) how I was missing the bus on this technique.

    The things I sometimes do need reference sheets for are things that arise in the course of my writing, often unanticipated - the latest legal opinions on criminal procedures, the ways in which police departments have adapted their procedures to these rulings, the uses of various forms of technology in criminal activities, the means available to police in combatting them, and the status of current law. I crave details of local geography, and the recent history. Occasionally, I need to check where one police precinct ends and another begins, and the varying levels of criminal activity in one or another locale. I once spent two hours trying to pin down the date of a sergeant's exam and then had to confirm with someone at DCPI (Deputy Commissioner Public Information) that no exam had been given in the year in question.

    There is no way for me to anticipate all of these details - they emerge as the details of the story are written. On rare occasions, after finding I've been chasing down a blind alley, I've gone so far as gutting an entire subplot.

    Sorry I couldn't have been of more help.
     
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  20. Corbyn

    Corbyn Lost in my own head Supporter Contributor

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    When I found out you'd tagged several authors for this post, I debated responding. Ultimately due to comments you've made through this thread, I decided to throw my two cents in, for what they are worth. If I mirror earlier sentiments, I'm sorry. I haven't read most of the comments, only the original poster's.

    @Subject24 :

    First, I admire that you are trying to further your writer's toolkit. However, I feel like you may be going about it in a way that ultimately will not benefit you as a writer, or your writing journey. I'd like to focus on descriptions for example because you specifically mentioned finding it difficult to describe later things in your work. I'm assuming you mean people or places... Describing people for me is tricky, but mainly with time, and writing practice I have gotten much better about it. Therein lies the big secret, practice, practice, practice. No list you generate will help you ultimately if you do not sit down to the keyboard, or page and actually write. Lists have a time and place, but you'll progress much faster if you put the effort you would put into building such a resource and actually write instead.

    Second, Dialogue tags. Just don't... if you compile a resource on tags, when you write your dialogue will be formulaic and boring. If you aren't sure about dialogue, listen to people talk. Or look at the books you like to read or want to write in say a specific genre to see how most of those authors do their dialogue. You'll learn far more that way.

    Third and lastly: Find a critique group near you, or even online, and share your work. The best learning tool is often feedback from others. It's much quicker than trying to what you've asked about.
     
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  21. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Good point—I should have said that IF you have a tag, it should usually be “said.”
     
  22. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I was also a bit puzzled when I received the PM. However, I came here to check. Yeah, it's not the done thing to PM lots of people to get them to look at a thread, but it looks as if it was an honest mistake. No problem, @Subject24 .

    It's good to have a 'list' of words in case words fail you from time to time, which is what a thesaurus is for. There are a few good ones out there. I own the classic Roget's, which reflects the different nuances any word can carry in the English language, and connects related concepts. It's tricky to use this one sometimes, but well worth it if you need some new ideas about how to say something.

    I also own the Collins, which is set up more like a dictionary, and simply lists synonyms for a particular word. This is great for those senior moments when I KNOW there's another word out there for what I want, but can't think of it.

    Both of these are great tools, but don't get into the habit of using them all the time. You'll be missing the boat. The boat? Let me explain.

    Making a list of adjectives/adverbs/verbs, etc will suck up a LOT of your time which you could better spend just writing. Relying on your completed list will result in a fairly lifeless (and lazy, sorry) approach to writing anyway. Need a word? Pick a word from this list. Chuck it into the mix. Bingo. Now choose another one so you don't repeat yourself. Bingo again.

    Sometimes (in fact often) the trick isn't finding a particular word, but thinking of a unique way to present your idea.

    Instead of looking for another word for 'red' or an adjective to modify it, think of a way to contrast 'red' with whatever colour is behind it. What makes it stand out, or blend in? Or think of why 'red' is important to this particular viewer. Or think of what else this particular shade of red reminds you of—and what effect that memory has on you. As you write about it, put 'red' into the context of your story. That context connection is something no thesaurus or list of adjectives will provide for you. Strong and visceral connections will make your writing take on a life of its own.

    I'm with those other responders who think this project is a bit of a waste of your time, unless you plan to write a list book in order to sell it. It will be re-inventing the wheel and more or less duplicating what a thesaurus already does. It really won't improve your writing, any more than being a whiz at Scrabble or crosswords will improve your writing. Sure, you'll know and learn lots of words (which is good), but being a walking dictionary isn't the key to writing well.

    Writing is more than just knowing and picking a 'right word.' It's more about framing your thoughts and ideas in a unique way that captivates your readers and helps them visualise your story.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
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  23. MikeyC

    MikeyC Active Member

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    When i write, I stay away from 'he said', 'she said', with adverbs as much as possible.

    So, for example.

    Instead of writing:
    'Jack, look at my big . . . !' Judy said enthusiastically.

    I would write:
    Judy abruptly turned to Jack, unable to hide her excitment, 'Look at my big . . . .!'

    I have never liked writing 'said'.


    Rgds
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
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  24. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Oh you got one too, and I thought I was speshul
     
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  25. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale The third pronunciation of "potato" Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You are. We all are, in our own special ways.

    [​IMG]
     

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