I’ve been hard at work revising Warner book #3, Desire in His Eyes by Diane Perkins, which will be released in 2007. One of my revision tasks is to take a look at the words I use. For me, this means a couple of things:
1. Watch out for word repetition
2. Watch out for anachronisms
You have to love Microsoft Word (unless you are still a Word Perfect devotee, that is) because it make it so easy to search for repeated words. I discovered I was using the word “shrugged” all throughout the manuscript. My characters were shrugging all over the place. So I used Word’s “find” function and changed a bunch of them.
Another way words are repeated is on the same page or even in the same paragraph. I have a fist fight in the book and I used the word “thud” about three times in the same scene. My mind went blank about another word to substitute.
To the rescue came http://thesaurus.reference.com/
I used to have to pull out my thesaurus, look for my word in the back, then look in the various sections for the synonyms. In thesaurus.com I instantly have my synonyms!
For “thud,” I found “crash” “smack” “thump” and a really nice word, “thwack.”
That brings me to item number 2: anachronisms. Would my characters even use the word “thwack”? I try to use words that were in use in the Regency, even in my narrative.
Rescue #2 comes with http://www.etymonline.com/index.php
I love this website! No more risking a hernia lifting my Abridged Oxford Dictionary. No more eyestrain trying to read the small print. This is an online etymology dictionary, telling the earliest usage of a word and also how the word was used. Here is the entry for “thwack”: to hit hard with a stick,” 1530, of echoic origin. The noun is recorded from 1587.
So I could have used “thwack” but in the end I thought it sounded too “Batman” (the old TV show that used to use balloons saying “thwack” “bop” “wham”)
I also checked etymonline.com for was the phrase, “he was upstaged.” “Upstage” came into use in 1921, so I didn’t use it.
Another indispensible tool is http://dictionary.reference.com and the cool thing is you can flip back and forth from dictionary.com to thesaurus.com. I don’t trust my usage of words. In my very first manuscript, I used the word “discrete”, but what I really meant was “discreet.” That manuscript was read by lots of critique partners and contest judges and only one of them discovered my mistake. So for this blog, I double-checked the definitions of “anachronism” and “devotee.” It only took a minute.
What are your favorite online sites to assist with the writing process? Readers of our blog, this means you, too. I’ll bet nearly all of you use Word or Word Perfect for something. Or perhaps you have a favorite reference book. I’d love to know!
Well, at the present moment, I don’t have any need for them since I haven’t made it back to school just yet, but the things I use in daily life to simply look stuff up are two programs on my PDA — the Britannica Encyclopedia, guess it’s 2005 now and Wordbook dictionary. I sure wish they would be bigger, but I guess for a PDA and older versions of programs, they are pretty good. 🙂
Ooh, thanks for the etomology dictionary link, Diane.
I use the online dictionary and thesaurus from Merriam-Webster, and I supplment them with the printed M-W dictionary and Roget’s Thesaurus when the word I’m looking for isn’t in the free (read: abridged) online version.
Now, if only I could afford the back-breaking hernia-inducing volumes of the OED, I’m sure my writerly output would increase ten-fold.
Lois, I think the web has made encyclopedias affordable. I used to wish I could afford the Encyclopedia Britannica. Now I can! (except I make do with what I can get for free like Wikepedia, which I know one must be careful about).
Keira, I don’t own the “real” OED, but an abridged version that I bought at a library sale years ago.
Another site I use all the time is Answers.com. When I need a quick fact, that is always the fastest way to get it.
Glad you like the etymology dictionary. Isn’t it great?
One does have to be careful about Wikipedia; but the British journal Nature did a study comparing the entries in Wikipedia to the entries in the Encyclopedia Britannica on a variety of technical topics, and found that Britannica had more errors on average. (A study whose methodology Britannica hotly contested, for obvious reasons.) Not sure how well they do on the humanities.
I must admit, I mostly use plain old-fashioned books as references. A good friend of mine gave me a book of words drawn from the Oxford English dictionary, arranged chronologically (without their definitions), with an index in the back; so you can quickly look up when a word came into use. It’s a lot smaller than the OED, so much easier to look things up in. 🙂
As for having to love Microsoft Word–no I don’t! 🙂 I really dislike a program that thinks it is smarter than I am. It has all these spell-checking and grammar-checking defaults, which of course one can turn off, but they are a pain.
Why are stay at home moms demonized and women who
work and have children are also demonized?
Hi, this weekend is pleasant in favor of me, as this occasion
i am reading this impressive educational post here at my residence.
Through these websites you can create because it allows you to connect with prospects and
customers is of primary importance for an internet marketer and are searching for.
The more you refine your value proposition the better your company’s first impression. If that is not the case. Is marketing worth the trouble? Cost Per Action advertising, you can get in on the action and learn how to make best use of social networks sites are differentiated.
Also visit my webpage; Ims media marketing
Hi therе i аm kavin, its my first time to
commenting аnywhere, when i read this аrticle i thought i could аlso
make comment due to this brilliant paragraph.