Monday, November 1, 2010
Don’t Bore Us with the Thesaurus
For me the thesaurus is a tool like any other. I once spent ten minutes searching through the thesaurus because I’d forgotten the word ‘optional’. Times like those I hang my head in shame and wonder why I call myself a writer. But then I recall even the greatest chefs, musicians, and writers need tools to perfect their art.
The thesaurus is handy when the brain begins to fry. It reminds me of the words I need to reach for – the words that hang on the edge of consciousness and tease the flailing mind.
The thesaurus can, however, become a crutch when a writer lacks confidence to find their own words and their own phrases. It can also make a writer grow lazy as they depend more on the reference book. They may accept a suggested word, but it may not be the right word. Sometimes we need more than a single word. Sometimes we have to work for the right phrase, the right description.
And don’t forget, the thesaurus can be used in other ways as well. If you own a hardcopy version then it can trigger ideas for characters and stories through random page selection. It can squash a bug crawling across your desk. You can even balance it on your head to improve posture.
How often do you refer to a thesaurus? What are some ways you use the thesaurus? What are some other references you use when writing?
P.S. Good luck to those starting NaNoWriMo today!!! Exciting times!