I’m late with a new blog this week and my head’s all scratchy with guilt.
I’m following an 8-week course with the UnthankSchool.com on writing the short story. As well as a crit from the tutor, the students read everyone’s writing each week, post comments and ‘chat’ online on Sunday mornings. Whilst I’m flattered by the ‘I enjoyed reading this’ comment (and no one ever says they don’t, even if they didn’t), the suggestions I find most useful are in the detail.
‘This word doesn’t work.’
‘You don’t need the word ‘around’ here.’
‘I don’t like the word smelly. Can you find another one?’
‘The word ‘bum’ took me out of the piece.’
‘I liked the word ‘bum’.’
Inevitably, I use my Roget’s Thesaurus a great deal. It’s not that I can’t think of another word. I can’t think of the exact word. Roget’s gives you various interpretations of a word, eg sticky can imply cohesive, tough, glutinous, difficult or retentive. Which did I mean when I wrote sticky? To look up various words and discover their many meanings is a fascinating way to pass a wet afternoon.
Which word/language books do you have in your reference shelves? These are mine.
Collins English Dictionary
Dictionary of English Synonyms and Antonyms
Oxford Dictionary for Writers & Editors
Oxford Guide to the English Language
New Oxford Book of English Prose
Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
Dictionary of Proverbs
Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (2 editions as they do change ie up-date)
Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes
Oxford Companion to English Literature
Usborne Book of Greek Myths
That’ll do for now. I’ll get onto books about writing later!