Monday, April 19, 2010

Searching for Words

Word Choices

While making up a word search puzzle for a student that I tutor, I pondered how we choose words when we write. I usually just write, letting the words come as I go, but sometimes I begin with a certain word or phrase and build around it, or brainstorm and play with different ways to say something. How do you choose your words?

Angela at The Bookshelf Muse regularly shares a Thesaurus Entry on various topics, such as setting, color, or description. Her posts are full of great words, phrases, similes, and metaphors that generate wonderful word pictures and inspiration. I encourage you to check out her blog; it might be just the word catalyst that you need.


Unpublished Author Contest

A friend alerted me to the Spoonfuls of Stories, a New Author Contest sponsored by Cheerios. Enter an original children's story for ages 3-8 for a shot at winning the Grand Prize of $5000 and a possible contract with Simon and Schuster.  Runners up receive $1000. Deadline to enter is July 15, 2010. One catch - to be eligible, you can't be a professional writer who writes for pay, such as a novelist or journalist. So this may take many of you out of the running, but perhaps you know someone who might be interested. Official rules and details can be found here.

Don't forget to share your thoughts on how you search for and choose your words when you write. Thanks a bunch, and have a great week.

Blessings:)

35 comments :

  1. I just write letting the first words that pop into my head hit the pages. But in my revision I will look at colloquialisms and dialect that would suit my character. I'm researching now for common phrases used by Aussies in the late 1930's if they lived in the bush.

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  2. I'm going to get this wrong, but I once read something communicating how a word cousin isn't as good as the right word. Keep searching until you find the right word.

    That stuck with me. There are many places in my novel that call for me to search and search.
    ~ Wendy

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  3. Charmaine,
    That's good advice. Sometimes I stop too much trying to get it right when I should proceed to get the ideas down. Thanks for coming by:)

    Wendy,
    That's a great quote, even if it is paraphrased:) I think I look at my writing as a work in progress, always!

    Thanks and blessings to you both,
    Karen

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  4. Thanks for reminding me about Angela's blog. It's a fabulous resource. I have no clue how she does it. LOL!

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  5. Honestly, Karen, the words come straight from my mind to the computer screen (or paper). Sometimes I'll check a word in the dictionary and replace it but most of the time, the original is a good fit. Thanks for your blog and have a great week! Do you want to be entered in my Giveaway, commemmorating soon-to-be 200 posts? Let me know. Thanks. Susan

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  6. Jessica,
    It is a great resource. I enjoy stopping there. Thanks for stopping:)

    Susan,
    You know, I've found this to be true too. Guess for me it depends on what I am writing. Will hop over to your blog and check out your contest.

    Thanks and blessing to you both,
    Karen

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  7. I am in love with words. When I'm looking in a dictionary, thesaurus or word finder, my heart rate increases as I get closer to the word I'm looking for. Is this wierd? Bizarre? Unusual? Peculiar? Strange? Unique. Ahhhh... that's the one.

    Excellent post, Karen. Thanks for the links.

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  8. Thanks for letting me know about Angela's blog; what a great resource.

    I struggle with getting rid of adverbs, especially to describe dialogue. Sometimes it's tricky to find another way to describe a tone of voice.

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  9. Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad the enrties continue to help. Man how I wish i could enter the cherrio contest but sadly it's only for the US! And I have the perfect story about a cereal monster, too.

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  10. I will pass this contest along to some people I know who write that genre. Thank you!

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  11. Jen,
    Yes, go with unique. That fits best:) As a writer, I see nothing wrong with it. I'm with you!

    Susanne,
    Adverbs have been my pet project of late. Easier said than done! lol

    Angela,
    Appreciate the work that you do to keep that blog going! It's a treasure, for sure.

    Terri,
    Hope you can find someone that might be able to enter. That would be great:)

    Thanks to you all for taking the time to stop by. Blessings to all of you,
    Karen

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  12. I usually just free write and get it down on paper. Then I go back and try to make sure the words are true to the character, true to the time and place, and are smart words - the ones that say it best and most succinctly. I love using new words that I learn as long as they fit.

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  13. Hi Karen -

    Woohoo! Congrats on 82 Followers!

    I wing it for the first draft, but take more care during the editing phase. Angela's blog is a great resource.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  14. Carla,
    Sounds like about the right balance. Maybe I should have you give a workshop:)

    Susan R.,
    Thanks! I am pleased to have so many great followers. Yes, it is a wonderful resource for us writers.

    Thanks and blessings to you both,
    Karen

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  15. I love Angela's blog! So inspiring!

    As for how I choose words, well, whenever I hear a word I like I write it down. I have a running tab of words that intrigue me and, as you, I sometimes work a sentence around a certain word. Of course only if the scene allows for it and it fits! *g*

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  16. Karen:
    I write what is in my mind. Then I may choose a synonym with a different shading. I have to stay away from adverbs and 'ing' words and verbs of being.

    I'll check out Angela's blog later. It's late and I've got to turn in.

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  17. Angela,
    I think the common theme here is that most of us like and play around with words. What a nice thing to have in common!

    Cecelia,
    Yes, I try and avoid those too, but they crop up more often than I would like:)

    Blessings to you both,
    Karen

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  18. Wow! That's a great contest! I'll have to let others know about it! I got several questions yesterday about contests and whether I knew of any! So thank you, Karen!

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  19. Sometimes I write with Thesaurus.com up and running. When I come across a word that is just too common and over-used I go right to the Thesaurus. :)

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  20. I know of several authors who found success with the Cheerios contest--thanks for sharing!

    As for finding the right word...I just speed through with a word that works and trust that I'll fix it in edits.

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  21. What an awesome contest, however I wouldn't even know what to write for the ages 3-8 so I'll leave it the other professionals out there :)

    As for words to write I don't think about it, the first stage is to get it all out on paper, the second stage is to break up my novel into chapters and paragraphs (yes my drafts are really awful) then from there I fix spelling and such and while I'm doing that I use a trusty thesauras to gauge for new ideas and new words to bring my story more to life!

    Great post!

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  22. I have several words I overuse, so I finally wrote down every thesaurus entry for them and keep lists nearby! Works for me!

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  23. Jody,
    Glad this might be help. I love finding good resources for us writers:)

    Emily,
    Thanks for that resource! I'd not heard of it before. Will check it out.

    Beth,
    The Cheerio winners - that's or exciting! Your method for finding words sounds like a good one,

    Thanks to you all for coming by.
    Blessings,
    Karen

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  24. Jen,
    I like your stages, what a good way to do it;)

    Jill,
    That's a great idea, thanks for passing it along.

    Blessings to both of you,
    Karen

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  25. I normally just let the words flow out but I probably should give it a little more consideration. I'll check out The Bookshelf Muse.

    Thanks for the contest info. I have a couple friends who would like this info.

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  26. I kinda freewrite and then stop to find more powerful words occasionally on the online Thesaurus. Music stirs memories and moods; have you discovered Pandora online?????

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  27. Ah, yes. Word choice. It's important. For me, writing is all about verbs. It's what makes the writing come alive. So I'm always trying to find just the right verb. And when I do, it's like magic. :)

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  28. Alisa,
    Everything that I've read of yours has been good, so you must be doing something right:)

    Patti,
    Am realizing through this that I do a little of everything, including free writing! Have to check out the Pandora site, thanks!

    Elana,
    Good point, I'm so busy keeping an eye on adverbs that I can miss the punch that the verbs can make.

    Three cheers for good word choices!
    Thanks and blessings to each of you for coming by,
    Karen

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  29. Words are a funny thing. Sometimes the first or second words we choose still aren't the best ones.

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  30. Like you, I let my words flow. Usually while flowing a rhythmn develops. And in the editing process, I'll use my thersarus to find words to replace ones that don't fit in, like a note off key. Or, if necessary, find a new sound altogether.

    Thank you for the contest alert, too.

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  31. Laura,
    I know. Just about the time I think I have them figured out, they change and I need to use another word. lol

    Lynn,
    I like that comparison of a note off key! You are welcome about the alert.

    Thanks and blessings to both of you,
    Karen

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  32. For me, it's all about intentionality. I began blogging with a purpose, and for a purpose, so it's with those two things in mind that I ponder words & content.

    Most of my words are chosen when I'm out for my morning walk, or when I sit quietly during my morning devotions.

    Then again, sometimes things just jump into my frame of reference and I just have to give them center stage.

    Blessings,
    Kathleen

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  33. Kathleen,
    Appreciate your thoughts. That is a good way perceive it; I like your perspective. Think I need to do a separate post to share everyone's input.
    Blessings,
    Karen

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  34. Thanks for the link to the Cheerios contest. I have a friend who will definitely be interested! :-)

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  35. Lynda,
    Glad the link will be helpful! Let us know how your friend makes out, okay?
    Blessings,
    Karen

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your input. Have a blessed day!