Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tools of the Trade: The Well-Spoken Thesaurus

One of the books I have on my work desk is The Well-Spoken Thesaurus.  It's a great way to think outside of your normal patterns and give your manuscript a bit of flair.

It's not a typical thesaurus where you look up the word and you get a litany of words to substitute.  It includes phrasing, which can be just as important as not repeating the same words over and over.

One example:
His ___ were like a ____
His ____ were the____ of a ___
Example: The skin of his wrinkled brown face had a dry and scaly look; his hands were the hands of a crocodile.  His movements were marked by the lizard's disconcertingly abrupt clockwork speed; his speech was thin, fluty, and dry.  (Aldous Huxley, Chrome Yellow)

See how more you as the reader get from "his hands were the hands of a crocodile" as opposed to "his hands were like a crocodile's" (which is better than "his hands were dry and scaly").

Another example:
Persuade - prevail upon, strike a sympathetic chord, or cajole
Persuade not to - dissuade
Persuade to speak - draw him out
Persuaded me to - moved me to 

And possibly a more useful example:
Said - expressed, indicated, remarked, made clear that, said with a touch of, issued a statement, said with a quiver of, implored, broke into the conversation, gave full expression to, an irreverent voice put in, put it to her, articulated, dropped her voice mournfully, she went on, she went off into a, as murmurs seeped through the pews, declared, drawled out the word, couched in terms of, put it to him squarely, addressed some remark to him.

No comments:

Post a Comment