Quick, What’s Another Word For Thesaurus?

EDITING TO ADD: The entry (mentioned below) is UP. Check out Secrets & Second Chances.

I’ve been confronted with a depressing reality this week. Everything I’ve written in the last four years has been rough draft. Even the work I *thought* I’d revised is still rough. Bumpy, choppy, hairy, rocky, unshorn. (I’ll explain this overload further down.)

You see, this week I took a crazy pill (or it might have been that turkey burger) and decided to enter the Mills & Boon New Voices 2011 competition. I know what you’re thinking.

“What was she thinking?”

Trust me, I’ve asked myself this same question. Still waiting for the answer.

I didn’t want to use the current WIP because that would be too easy. (Okay, there are other reasons.) That left another story I started a couple of months ago and set aside. The inkling of an idea that has floated around in my mind for a few years.

Fortunately, I had the rough draft of chapter one done. Unfortunately, I had to revise it into something I wouldn’t be embarrassed to post. This meant finding all the right words. The powerful verbs. The fresh metaphors. The most descriptive descriptors.

I’ve spent three nights and most of a day revising less than 2200 words. Why did it take so long? Because I had to check the thesaurus four times per sentence to find the right words. (Slight exaggeration. Slight.)

I’m not looking for words I don’t know. I’ve been speaking English for nearly forty years. I’m educated. I’ve been a reader for more than thirty years. But for some reason, my brain gets halfway through a sentence and it’s IRK…. speed bump.

The word is right there. I know what it means, how it would sound. It’s perfect for what I want to say. And yet the word escapes me. It’s official. My brain is a colander. Tiny holes allow everything I need to slip through while disturbing memories and 80s song lyrics never go anywhere.

I’m now considering adapting my “vomit it out” first draft policy to include more editing along the way. Because at this rate, editing an entire MS could take me years.

10 thoughts on “Quick, What’s Another Word For Thesaurus?”

  1. Ah, this is natural! In the rush of just getting the story out we use the word that is on the tongue. In revision, we find better ones. The more you revise one doc, the more likely you’ll find the right word when you work the first draft of the next one, and the next. Because you learn new words from all that thesaurus digging…
    Now, how many ways are there to say ‘hand’…that’s what get’s me! 😉

  2. Great title! LOL And no matter WHEN you revise, it takes time. A lot of it. More of it than you think you can tolerate. That is why I used to dislike revising, because it took so long it felt like it would never be done. But if you go fast with it, you’ll miss the details that need TLC.
    Hang in there. It’ll all be worth it. And congrats on entering the contest. Fingers crossed!

  3. P. Kirby says:

    LOL. I have the same problem. It’s worse when speaking because I’m not much of a talker anyway. But sometimes, even on paper, I’m a flibbering idjit. Like yesterday, I was adding stuff to our “Stuff to Buy” dry erase board. I wrote down “clothes detergent,” knowing there was something odd about the term, but temporarily unable to access the usual term, “laundry detergent.” Oy. I left it on the board as an effigy to my impeding senility.

  4. Terri Osburn says:

    I hope this makes the rough draft less…rougher. LOL! I’ve been using the thesaurus website but I’m going to buy myself a good paper version so I don’t have to bounce from screen to screen.

  5. Terri Osburn says:

    It’s so daunting, Donna. I knew this was work, but wow. Definitely making me rethink my “vomit it out” first draft policy. And thanks!

  6. Terri Osburn says:

    Don’t you hate that, Pat?! Happens to me all the time. Thankfully, my daughter is a goober too so she and I laugh about these blank moments together.
    I totally know what you meant by “Clothes detergent”. And that’s always my excuse. “You know what I meant!”

  7. Lady in sewing class today said… “Anyone seen that thingy? You know, the arm thingy?”
    I just grinned. Of course, I also had no idea what she meant.

  8. Joanna Shupe says:

    There is no shame in using a thesaurus to get it right! The trick is to use the fewest words to evoke the emotion you’re going for.
    And based on your entry, I think you got it just right.

  9. Terri Osburn says:

    Using the fewest words is the one thing I have down. In fact, today I realized all sorts of words I WISH I’d thrown in there. Like the smells of the fair or mosquitoes or the heat. Gah!
    Can you tell description is my WEAKEST area? *sigh* And THANKS!!

  10. Terri Osburn says:

    Mo – Now I want to know what the sewing thingy was. LOL!

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