As an aspiring author, one of the most tedious jobs I invariably face is to find that one word, which can express my writing in the most desirable way. How I always avoid getting entangled in those long-winded sentences and attempt to express my thoughts in few select verse.
Let me explain this with an example. I am sure you remember the distinct smell of mud after the first rain. That pungent smell that is so hard to explain, but it lingers on your mind. You can feel it but struggle hard to express it in words. Well, there is a word for it – it is called Petrichor. Will it not be cool to use this word in your writing. Something like,
“You are the raindrop that meddlewith soil,
petrichor raising gently making my heartto moil,
The colors of rainbow defines your being,
You are a free-spirited anima with a soul that is clean.”
So how do you get such words in your treasure trove? Let us explore
Read voraciously, but with a twist – we all know the best way to become a better writer is by becoming an even superior reader. But reading alone is not enough. To become a good writer you need to exhibit some discipline in reading. Here are few things I religiously do
- Select books on the genre you are writing on. Reading the same genre helps in not only understanding how the plots are built, but also to appreciate the author’s choice of words.
- While reading, as you come across a difficult word or a word that gets your attention, note it down. Look them up in the dictionary, understand what it means.
- Noting the words is not enough though. We are not wired to remember everything that comes to us. So put them in practice. How? Learn what parts of speech the word is. Create your own sentences. Implement it. Experiment it. The more you use them, higher the chance of you using them in your writing.
It is not easy to read a book with such constraints. It takes much longer to finish, and at times may break the excitement of reading. Particularly if the book is interesting. But who says writing is easy.
Thesaurus – a boon or curse: Writing has become much easier than before. Tools like Microsoft Word gives ready access to word banks. While synonym does help, blind use of the same will make your writing look shallow. Here is why
- A synonym is a replacement for a word to word. It is not an alternative to a sentence or a phrase.
- It is a misconception that using a difficult word makes writing look cool. It is the choice of right words, not difficult that makes writing interesting.
- Not all words describe the same situation. Consider the following sentence. “The rescuers marked him alive after the catastrophic storm.” One of the synonyms of alive is extant. However, “extant” is used more in the context of the existence of documents. So if one chose to use extant instead of alive the sentence will not make sense.
- Be careful with the parts of speech. Some synonyms are adjectives. And replacing a noun with an adjective can make your sentence confusing. Consider this. “The fetters clamped him to the ground.” One of the synonyms of fetter is a constraint. However, while fetter is used as a noun in the above sentence, the constraint is a verb. Changing fetters to constraints is not appropriate in the above situation.
So when you use synonym, consider the tense, the parts of speech and enhancement factor before using them.
These are some of the simple, yet powerful ways I have used to enhance my writing. Hope you find it useful. Let me know your thoughts, and if you have few more hidden tricks up your sleeves, please leave them in the discussion thread.
Copyright © Shantanu Baruah