The Most Important Book on a Writer’s Shelf

The most tattered and worn reference book on my shelf is The Synonym Finder, by J. I. Rodale. It claims to be the largest, most comprehensive thesaurus in print. I don’t know about that, but I do know that this book is my most helpful writing tool. When I’ve used the same word twice in a paragraph and I need to find a new way to say the same thing, I go to The Synonym Finder. The word dagger, for instance, has almost 30 alternatives. Looking for a title? The Synonym Finder can help you find one. Just look up a frequently used word in your text and see if there might be a clever alternative. Can’t think of how to spell a word? Not sure what a word means? Want a more active verb to describe your character’s actions? I use this book for everything. If you don’t already own one, I suggest you purchase one as soon as possible. Poets, memoir writers, fiction writers, journalists— they all need this tool.

I do want to issue one caution. Only use the words which come naturally to you or your characters. It would seem strange to call a knife a rapier if your character is a mid-western farmer. Keep it real. Keep it natural. But don’t reuse and recycle the same words over and over again. Find fresh ways to describe and explain. Your work will shine!

P.S. I’m still collecting comments from readers for a chance to win a free 10 page edit! In honor of my birthday, I’m giving away a free edit to celebrate. Just comment below by telling me what you are writing.  I also have some great classes coming up. I’ll be at the Pine City Library on Saturday, November 3rd teaching a class on story beginnings and what the writer needs to accomplish. It’s free. Call the PC Library to sign up at 320-629-6403. I’ll be there again on Wednesday, November 28 teaching a free workshop with Shelley Odendahl on Intro to Self-Publishing. AND for those who want to get serious about writing a memoir, I’ll be teaching a 4 week class, Thursdays in November at Pine Center for the Arts. Get signed up by calling 320-629-4924.

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