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Why I’m Forming My Own Thesaurus


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Thesauruses are often one of writers’ best friends, especially in times of drafting and editing. You don’t want to be repetitive. You want the word that sounds just right, and sometimes a nice Thesaurus provides you with some nifty words that for some reason elude your mind.

As someone who still has a fondness for paperbacks, I own an Oxford Thesaurus. I also make use of my built-in one that came with my MacBook Air. I occasionally use

But I recently took up the habit of making a list of most-needed/liked words and phrases. I’ll be reading an article and I’ll see a word that fits the image I have in my head. I underline the stuff I loved in other books/magazines/blogs…Some of them even served as unintentional writing prompts. Ah…the mysterious (and slightly crazy) mind of the writer…

And let’s face it, while there are many ways your character can walk/enter/move/run…etc., only one or two will describe his mood and speed perfectly without contrasting his personality or situation.

Using the right word also eliminates unnecessary adverbs and adjectives. Don’t get me wrong. I might be the in the minority as a writer as I love those parts of speech. Still, some of them are redundant and if you can make your piece smoother, you go ahead and do it.

So there. I’m, with the help the stuff I’m reading and other Thesauruses at hand, forming my own. Because I know what I need. I know what my characters need.

And it makes the process much faster.

What are your go-to resources for the writing process? Have you thought about collecting your favorite vocabulary? 

To conclude, here’s a funny video from Friends on why we shouldn’t overuse anything, thesauruses.:)

P.S. I was also recommended Chambers Dictionary for Mac.

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4 Responses to “Why I’m Forming My Own Thesaurus”

  • That’s great advice!

    I started doing that when I first writing and got tired of using “ran” and “smiled” every other sentence. And don’t get me started on “frowned” and “shrugged”. Man, it’s hard! :)

    So, I now have pages of much catchier alternatives like “dashed”, “hurried”, “sprinted” and “darted”. Still have to come up with something good for “stood up” (as in, from a chair), mind you.

    Great Friends clip, too!

    • Pinar Tarhan says:

      Hi Nicholas,
      Thanks for commenting:)
      You are absolutely right. It’s one thing when you are writing a screenplay and you don’t need to describe so many things, and it’s another when you are writing a novel or story where you go crazy trying to make your character react in different ways. And yes, having to get them to “stand up” or “sit down” in different scenes encouraged me to form the personal thesaurus:)

  • Yvette Carol says:

    You know, that really is a good idea, Pinar! I may even try that myself. I get so sick of using the same words, as you say, it does drive you crazy. I’m curious, do you keep your own thesaurus on paper or hard drive?

    • Pinar Tarhan says:

      Hi Yvette!
      I’m keeping one on both:) I need to make some editing and combining, but even what I have so far is quite helpful.

      Sorry for the late reply, the whole agent-seeking phase is a bit insane:)

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