Jennifer's Journal


Saturday, June 25, 2005

On Writing

There seems to be a feeling among non-writers that using a thesaurus in the creative process is cheating.  It smacks to their minds of either a lack of know-how or else an attempt to add “big” words to make the author look more intelligent than he/she is in reality.  No such thing!  A thesaurus acts mainly as a memory prompt.  It isn’t that the writer doesn’t know a half dozen ways to say “he jumped” but that she/he can’t think of them “right this second.”  Looking at all the possibilities only speeds a process that would have happened anyway.  Why would we need a dozen ways to say “jumped?”  Well, first of all, the action we’re showing may be more dramatic, smoother, less abrupt, or a dozen other variable.  Then, using it too many times in a paragraph or on a page may bring it to the reader’s attention.  He or she could stop and think, “Hmm, “jumped” again; this writer’s characters are just “jumping” all over the place.”  Anything that stops the reader, taking them out of the story, is automatically bad.


Microsoft Word, the word processing program preferred by many writers, has a built-in thesaurus, one which can be accessed under the Tools command.  However, a quick check of any word can be done by placing the cursor on the word, then right clicking the mouse and pulling it down to the word “Synonyms.”  This automatic thesaurus is designed for the average user, however, and often isn’t comprehensive enough for writers.  I also use a program called WordWeb Thesaurus and Dictionary.  A free copy of this program may be downloaded at:


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