Need help compiling a list of verbs and other words so make better prose.

Discussion in 'Research' started by Ewolf20, May 22, 2018.

  1. Ewolf20

    Ewolf20 Journeyman

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    I have a problem, my prose feels lacking. the reason it feels so lacking is my very small vocabulary. not too small as that would feel contrived or indignant. but i have tried googling it but nothing of interest shows up and most are just things for resumes. i'm not here for resumes, i'm here to write screenplays and short stories.


    so if any of you guys have any words to share with me, please do. i seriously need it.
     
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Valar Lord

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    The only way I've found to expand a vocabulary, is to read... Read anything. in all different forms.
    When I read and am enjoying it. I try to work out why I'm liking it. Is it the pace? The phrases? The descriptions? The words?
    When I get to something I don't understand , I look it up. The first time I read HP Lovecraft, I wondered why all the buildings had one eye. He kept calling them "cyclopean". He meant "denoting a type of ancient masonry made with massive irregular blocks" and not "of or resembling a Cyclops". I had to learn that.
     
  3. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Dark Lord

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    Yes, Lovecraft also taught me what "charnel" means. At first I kept associating it with "carnal" and was very confused. :confused:

    Ebooks are especially convenient for learning new words since if you come across something you don't know you can just tap on it to get a definition.

    Ewolf, I found it fairly easy to just google "list of verbs for writing" and "list of adjectives for writing" and found plenty of sources. Here's a couple I found:

    https://writershelpingwriters.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Active-Verbs-List.pdf

    Descriptive Words List of Adjectives Word Reference |

    And a website I really like which has tons of archaic and obscure words (great for SFF!) is:

    The Phrontistery: Obscure Words and Vocabulary Resources
     
    Ewolf20 and CupofJoe like this.
  4. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Valar Lord

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    That last link is a real find!
    Thank you.
     
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    Another reason to read rather than to list: if you list, you are merely adding words to your List of Words. Only by reading will you discover the various ways in which a word colors the words around it. It's not the word you're after, it's the usage of the word.

    To draw a parallel with music: you can say you need a list of notes because you want to write a song and, yes, you do need to know the notes (those of you who play be ear, please sit down for the duration of this post). But knowing the notes isn't enough. You bend notes, combine notes, play notes in harmony and in disharmony. It's the usage that matters. And the only way you get that is by listening to music.

    Both methods--listening to music, reading books--demands hundreds and thousands of hours. The only short cut is to start now rather than tomorrow.
     
  6. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    From Stephen King's On Writing:

    Some writers have enormous vocabularies.... Other writers use smaller, simpler vocabularies. Put your vocabulary on the top shelf of your toolbox, and don't make any conscious effort to improve it... One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because your maybe a little ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.

    He goes on to suggest that your vocabulary will improve the more you read/write, and that spending too much time messing around with fancy vocabulary will destroy the clarity of what you are trying to say. IMO this is fantastic advice and has made my own writing much more "real" and "true" and less self-indulgent and showy.
     
    CupofJoe likes this.
  7. Ewolf20

    Ewolf20 Journeyman

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    thanks actually. maybe there's nothing wrong with having a small vocab....unless your trying to describe what a council room in a hollow tree looks like...even then it's gonna be simple words.
     
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