Words, words, and more words

Words. What more is there to say?

Okay, seriously. I love them and I find myself wishing I had taken that Latin class in high school that so many of my friends took. I’m convinced I’d have a better vocabulary. Sometimes I absolutely, positively cannot find the right word. It exists. I know it does. I’m sure I’ve heard it or read it scores of times. But where is it when I need it?

Sometimes, as a writer, I turn words into a game. My goal, after all, is for kids to love reading my books not only for the story but for the sound of words. This, to me, is one of the re-readability factors. What makes them coming back for more!

I’m currently working on a story that I’ve had in my noggin for over a year (as happens with most of my stories), and I really, really, really want to get the words right. The story depends on it. So here’s what I did last week…

Photo on 5-29-15 at 1.44 PM

This is my bedroom floor, or should I say my drafting table? It’s probably impossible to see in the photo, but the middle row of cards are the nouns in the story. The cards under them are onomatopoeia, and the cards above them are verbs. Along the side I have the location of every scene from the book. As I worked on my manuscript I realized I had so many of these in the draft I couldn’t possibly move them around on my computer screen. With the cards I could see where I fell short. Heck, you can see where I fall short. There are a couple of lengthy columns there and then a few pipsqueaky ones. Those are my word holes. Where are the words I need? By doing this exercise I could see it so much better, and come up with the words desperately waiting to be heard in this story. Now I’ve transferred this mess onto a spreadsheet so I can carry it around with me while I work on my story outside. Downstairs. In the shower (okay, just kidding there). And (hopefully) sooner, rather than later, the rest of the words needing to be heard will come to me. It’s like a miracle.

Do you have favorite or crazy way you find or organize the words you use in your writing? Do you have some favorite words to share? Please leave a comment. You could be my miracle!

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4 thoughts on “Words, words, and more words

  1. Deb,
    Great system! Love that you are carrying around the spreadsheet and living your work. Inspiring! I love you my friend and I am with you on the journey; through life and to find the right words.

  2. Dear Deb
    I keep a hard copy of Roget on my desk and work with a document prep tool that has an electronic counterpart.
    My tactic is to first find the word with the shade of meaning that resonates and then find the alternatives for that word that reads/sounds right in context.
    A little tedious and very much worth it for picky finicky me.

    • Dear Dad, You are definitely my go to wordsmith. I finally believe that you really aren’t making all those juicy words up! I like this method and will give it a try. A more comprehensive thesaurus might help. Do they make them in multi volume sets? lol. I like the “shades of meaning” idea – that will get me closer to what I’m searching for. Thank you for sharing. And yes, you did take Latin!

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