With so many resources available to writers today, it’s easy to lose the opportunity to do what can be one of the most creative aspects when writing a piece of fiction – finding the right word or phrase to get your point across. While I’m all for using a thesaurus when I want to make sure I’m not repeating the same phrase over and over, I find it a very creative pastime to generate my own lists.
I think it’s great that there are such a variety available – I recently purchased The Emotion Thesaurus for my Kindle ($4.99) and with the Kindle app on my laptop, the book is close at hand when I’m writing. However, I try to use these sources as just an inspiration to make me think, put the picture in my mind and find the word I’m looking for.
Take colors for example. I’ve seen the posts on Tumblr that have hundreds of words describing each color – and what a great resource when you’re stuck! But wouldn’t it also fun to do your own imagining? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you don’t have to create ‘new’ words…but take time to sit back, close your eyes and imagine a color and then write down as many descriptors you can think of.
You can do the same for any element: emotions, descriptions of hair, landscapes – if you’re feeling that the writing is getting a little stale, and you don’t have that happy spirit wandering around inside you, maybe you just need to spend some time in wordplay!
It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering work! Below are the first two lists I created when I came up with this idea. Nothing special at all – but they’re the words that came to my mind when I just took a moment to sit quietly, working to paint the picture of the word in my mind.
GREEN: earthy, fresh, renewed, lively, spruce, olive, celery, mint, lime, life-breath
RED: crimson, candied-apple, deep blush, rosy, bright lips, pinched cheeks, dark amber, blood-red, stop sign, red-hot candies
For just a minute’s worth of work, maybe I’ll generate something I hadn’t thought of before – maybe not, but sometimes it’s just a good feeling to turn to yourself for the inspiration. It’s also a great exercise when you’re stuck in line somewhere or waiting for your car at the shop – let the muse run wild and every so often she’ll provide you with a gem!