About Writing

Word Tools

Back to the topic of word choice.

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I’m writing that my brain checks out on me. Typically, I have many, many words at my disposal…until I need a certain word. Then I develop anomia. And believe your me, it’s hard to reverse engineer words sometimes.

When the inevitable happens, there are three tools I turn to.

The first I stumbled across on Pinterest. Brynn Donovan had posted a few of her word lists. When I realized that I used her lists all the time, I went ahead and bought the book Master Lists for Writers.

Now, I bet you’re thinking, “Why use a book when the Internet is free?”

Because I get sucked into the Internet and lose any hope of making progress. And let me tell you, this is more than just a compendium of words describing gestures. There are name lists, character traits, and plot types. Seriously, have this book nearby. It’s valuable at ALL stages of the writing process.

Occasionally, what I’m looking for just isn’t in Donovan’s book, so I turn to 1,000 Strong Verbs. This guide is organized by weak verb (like “shake”) then breaks the synonyms down by category, which allows you to choose a vivid verb that colors your scene in just the right way, and this should help you avoid the “F7 Trap.”

While pulling links for this post, I discovered there are two other books in this series. I’ll probably order the one on gestures.

Finally, there are times when I just need a better word than the one in my head. 99% of the time I know that the word exists, but I can’t remember it. (That anomia thing.) That’s when I go to WordHippo. I love this site. The drop down list allows me to choose exactly what I’m looking for-there’s even a rhyming dictionary. Each synonym is placed under a specific category, which allows you to choose the correct modality. Of course, the problem is going to just WordHippo and nowhere else.

I’m always on the lookout for other suggestion. Let me know what your go-to word resource is.

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