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This week: Building Your VocabularyEdited by: Brooke - Playing Catch Up!
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[Building Your Vocabulary]
Two trucks loaded with thousands of copies of Roget's Thesaurus collided as they left a New York publishing house last Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
Witnesses were aghast, amazed, astonished, astounded, bemused, benumbed, bewildered, confounded, confused, dazed, dazzled, disconcerted, disoriented, dumbstruck, electrified, flabbergasted, horrified, immobilized, incredulous, nonplussed, overwhelmed, paralyzed, perplexed, scared, shocked, startled, stunned, stupified, surprised, taken aback, traumatized, upset. . . . [Internet Joke]
As most of you know (or should know) a thesaurus is similar to a dictionary in which you can look up words, but instead of definitions, you get alternate words that mean something similar or identical to the word you looked up.
There is a quote from a talented author that I believe many people misunderstand.
"Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule." - Stephen King
In my opinion, the motive behind his statement is not to say a thesaurus is useless or shouldn't be used. You have to read this exactly as it's written. "Any word you have to HUNT for in a thesaurus is the wrong word." So if you're having to hunt for this word in a thesaurus, it's a pretty safe bet it's not one that is in your normal vocabulary. It might be a word you don't even know until you find it listed in a thesaurus under a heading of a word you do use.
What's the problem with using a lot of uncommon words you ask? Well, many of your readers may not understand what you're trying to say. Using what people call "five dollar words" when "fifty cent words" will do can alienate your readers making them feel ignorant. If you consistently use uncommon words to describe common things, your writing is going to be more confusing than impressive. With that said, building your vocabulary is one of the most important things you can do to excel as an author. You have to love the language and enjoy using it, so learning words and the correct way to use them is critical.
How do you do that you ask? The dictionary should be one of the most used books in your arsenal. In this day and age, most of you probably use the internet or electronic books more than anything though, so I thought I'd share some useful sites for dictionaries and word exploration to help you learn.
This is one of the most well-known encyclopedia/dictionary creator's of all time:
This is my personal dictionary of choice. Not just a dictionary but a thesaurus and home to the new "Word Dynamo", this is simple to use and a link that has been in my toolbar for years.
The visual thesaurus is a fascinating thinking tool much like our own Ideanary . This is a ball to play with.
[The Visual Thesaurus]
Are you interested in not only looking up the definition of a word but learning how to say it in another language? Well, there is a site for that too.
This site is self-titled as The Premiere Educational Dictionary - Thesaurus and it's definitely worth a peek:
Looking for a fun way to improve your vocabulary? Don't just look it up - actually LEARN the word.
This site will even help you make correct choices between confusing words with similar spellings as well. This may even be my new favorite!
Don't like dictionaries? Learning the roots of words can help you discover multiple word meanings without looking up every single word. Let's look at a trio of word roots and their definitions to give you an idea what you mean.
bio = life [biology, biosphere, biography]
phys = body, nature [physical, physician, physics]
vac = empty [vacant, vacuum, evacuate]
Now you need a listing of root words, right? Well here you go = LearnThat.Org has a word root quick reference as well as a dictionary.
Still want more? You just can't get enough, can you? How about when someone starts talking about some of the latest net terminology such as Google Hangouts or Facetime and you don't want to seem clueless, right? Easy fix, you can click up [Webopedia.com] and look it up - just like in your dictionary.
That's it for this edition - now go learn something!
Write and Review on! ~ Brooke
I've read this book - it's really fresh and fun. Who wouldn't love a detective that dresses like a clown with a zombie assistant? Get the Kindle version while it's FREE!
This month's links are to writing activities that help you improve your vocabulary.
"Word Fair" [E] by Mariah in Narnia :D
"Hawk's Vocabulary Extravaganza" [E] by BScholl
"Invalid Item"  by A Guest Visitor
I'm featuring work from new members of our community that caught my eye. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Children were children and grown ups were grown ups, and teenagers were somewhere in between
Bad things were small, like the punctured old beach ball, or the sadness of a melted ice-cream
Park-keepers were alert, and everything actually worked, and if we hurt ourselves, mum didn't want to sue
She would kiss it where it was sore, cuddle us some more, then we'd be off and start our climbing up anew
I'd love to drink every star reflected in your seas
just to taste your deepest thoughts
suspended in darkness that you,
get lost in.
Now as the browning, crinkled and carefully placed note lay teetering between two fingers, Toby realizes that what he had just read will change his life forever. Without knowing it, he had crawled through his mind long enough for his intoxication to fade into his despair and feed it his remaining ounces of blood. He was now as sober as the clearest pane of glass.
I look around,
I see the ground is frozen,
cold water unmoving,
birds have flown north,
wind bites at my skin.
Nothing is near.
I watch him walk away, waiting to see if he will turn around. He doesn't, of course. Which I expect. I am always right about him. Well, that's not true; Mom is always right about him. If I were always right about him I would have learned my lesson and I wouldn't be here. But I am here, watching him leave me. Again. He strolls casually, as though the heartbreak he just doled out has rejuvenated him, reminding him to soak in this beautiful day.
"Describe the world." The teacher's expression was unreadable. The always-bright girl sitting in the front seat expectedly replied that the world was beautiful. The constantly-angered boy next to her muttered that the world was too beautiful. One by one, students gave out adjectives reflecting just how easy their lives were. When it seemed like the whole class had given a description, the teacher noticed that one girl, normally very happy, had grown quite thoughtful and had not answered.
My mother cried, her eyes dark and wet with tears. My father had a comforting arm around her shoulder and looked on at me in discust. I thought I'd known my parents and how much they loved me. I guess not. They mourned the loss of their son, though they weren't losing me...they were pushing me away, disowning me as their child. So I guess in some respects I was dead. To many people I'd be concidered so. I would never exsist to my parents again...and it was my fault...
"Come on kid." The guard led me to the gates of my new prison.
"I could tell you stories about alien invasions, or runic scrolls concealing the cure for cancer, or the true insidious purpose of Facebook. I could tell you, but if I did I would have to get the light pen and wipe your memory." He paused only for a second, possibly hoping for a reaction, but apparently unwilling to wait for one. "I am just kidding, there's no pen light, just a guy with a flashlight and optical forceps to slide behind your eyeball and scramble up your brains a bit. You won't necessarily forget everything but you'll spend long hours muttering seemingly wild stories that no one can understand or even care enough to listen.
thirteen year old boy
in a ten mile universe
he had dreams
knew there was more
education, it propels
The garden girl
Wakes one morning
To find everything
As the sun that
Breaks over the sky
And burns away the clouds.
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I wanted to share some wonderful feedback to what should have been my last newsletter [#5052] "All Synonyms Are Not Created Equal" but Mr. SoCalScribe was kind enough to cover for me - I'm proud to share it with you.
From double A- elated
Thank you for the information, it is a great help to me.
He is pretty darn helpful isn't he? Thanks for writing in!
From BBWOLF Turns 24 on 6/3
Always watch the language at first- after that, blast the eardrums.
Jace, Great News letter.It was very informative on a topic that is hitting close to home. I am in a fast writing period, chapters flying by. I have thrown in words that do not mean what I thought they did. Many are picking the wrong spelling. But I hate stopping and looking stuff up. When plodding along I am surrounded by tomes and constantly checking.I wonder how many of us have the same problem?
Thanks for writing in Jim. The editorial above hopefully will help you find a fun way to learn some new words and distinguish which word is the correct one.
Dear B. Meredith,
What an insightful article. And, it comes in a delightful, humerous style. You write with such ease, it makes me jealous. You inspire others to greatness through your gift. Thank you for your encouraging words.
Thank you! SoCalScribe wrote that wonderful article and he is incredibly inspiring to me as well.
From LinnAnn-3x-NaNo Winner
Thanks for taking the time to write this for us.
Point well taken.
I love writing the Noticing Newbie newsletters and to my knowledge, Jeff got a kick out of standing in for me also. Thanks for writing in.
This is a fun site to get my creative mind working especially after a long day at work. Sometimes my regular routine just drags me down. Coming her just rejuvenates me.
That's great to hear. It does the same thing for me. I love this site and its members. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Here are a couple newsletter comments from past issues that hadn't been highlighted yet so I thought I'd grab them up and show off their work.
From Makeshift included with "Smooth As Glass"
This is a newly drafted short story about my experience flying home in the wake of my father's passing, particularly my thoughts and reactions to the goings on back home in regards to it. I'm considering actively pursuing a publisher for this, so all feedback is more than welcome!
Just read this. Nice. I have tried getting to know WDC and feel I have a good grip now; where to go to find things and such.
link to my story. Could not get the WDC item ID to work.http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1848818-Ocean-Boy-77-words
[Editor note - I've linked it here: "Ocean Boy" [E]]
Hope I wasn't late in submitting my first item. I think I'm falling off the WDC Newbie cloud down into the general abyss of authors inhabiting WDC. But that is ok, there are loads of things to stick my proverbial author's toe in.
I'm stoked too because I have begun "reviewing" and that is a BIG help. I met a super-mentor in Lornda, because I actually reviewed her review. I was impressed at how much she put into her review and told her and it's been 'peas and carrots' ever since.
Good luck my newer newbie mates. This place is excellent if you involve yourself.
Thank you both for sharing your work!
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