Making new words my own

English: So many words to keep track of!.

English: So many words to keep track of!. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a writer, words are my stock in trade.  So why do I continue using the same ones over and over again?  Yes, the writing style that I often employ is more folksy, the dialogue most often contains local dialect and idioms.  But does that then preclude my use of words I wouldn’t ordinarily use?  Well…it shouldn’t.  But, in rereading the novel I’ve been writing in Camp NaNoWriMo, I’ve come to the realization that I have a tendency to overuse some words.  And I think that can cause readers to become bored with any book that they’re reading.

I don’t enjoy reading books in which the author appears to be throwing less common, multi-syllabic words out there as a demonstration of his or her intelligence, but I also don’t like reading the same few words and phrases over and over.  I think that ends up diminishing the work as well.  There are how many words in the English language?  Seriously, how many?  I don’t know…maybe that’s something to research for another blog.  Anyhow, with all of those words to choose from, I believe I should be able to come up with any number of words and combinations of words to better convey the scenes in my novel, to better describe my characters (and their foibles), to transform my novel from a flat, two-dimensional state to a colorful, fully formed work of art that manages to hold tight to the reader until the last page (and perhaps beyond?).

Is that too much to ask of myself?  Mmm…I don’t believe it is.  I view this as one more way to grow as a writer, discovering new words and making them my own.  So…it’s time to go upstairs and dig that dictionary out from the middle of that stack of books, to dust off that thesaurus, and put them both to good use.  It worked when I was a kid in school, why not now?

7 Responses

  1. I am glad someone else does this, too. Good for you for breaking your habits! I am trying as well and it is not easy! I find myself doing it and sometimes will research different phrases or synonyms. I think sometimes Southern English is a blessing and a curse. It can be quaint, yet it lends itself to becoming overused in my writing.

    • Well, like you, I’m trying to break this habit…who knew it would be this difficult?? I think different dialects can really add a lot to a story, but it’s so easy to overdo it…

  2. Revision, revision, revision…

  3. Sent you a FB message for a software program, fyi.

    • Thanks, Patti…I’ll check it out…and just how did you know that I very rarely check my facebook messages, but I log in here every single day???

  4. […] Making new words my own ( […]

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