Lessons Learned #4

Hug your friends, but love your thesaurus

Honestly, I don’t know what I’d be without a thesaurus. I don’t own one in book form, but I use any online thesaurus that can give me a description and/or synonyms of a word that I am trying to use in my writing. With English not being my first language I have to make sure that whatever word I use is exactly what I want it to say. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

I thought I had written a pretty good story when I handed in my first novel to the proof reader. Little did I know. When I got it back it was filled with red words, most of them suggestions for using other words. My vocabulary was small and I fell into the trap of repetition. I learned a lot from the comments of my proof reader. I wrote them all down and go through the whole list whenever I have written something. Just to make sure I don’t repeat the same mistakes.

One of the biggest mistakes I made is repeatedly using the word ‘to get.’

I got up.

I got dressed.

I got the book.

I got his gest.

All of these are valid sentences. If you put them into a text, however, you will not be so happy with them.

I got up and got dressed. I got the book. I finally got his gest.

I got, I got, I got, I got. Repetition. Boring! You probably could say it that way, but this is not what people want to read.

All these ‘gots’ actually have different meanings.

I got up – I rose, lifted myself off…, hoisted myself out of….

I got dressed – I put my clothes on.

I got the book – I grabbed/retrieved/picked up the book.

I got his gest – I understood his meaning.

To get up and to get dressed are probably ok to use as the ‘getting’ is part of the verb; to get dressed, to get up. But there are other ways to say it. If you use these different descriptions your writing will become not only more clear, but also more of a pleasure to read.

I hoisted by body out of bed and put my clothes on. Once dressed I picked up the book. I finally understood his meaning.

So much better.

Use a thesaurus!

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