Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, it gets tedious using the same words to convey your message. It’s nice to have options; a different way of phrasing things that succinctly express a similar sentiment.
Yes, you have an overall word count to follow for your book, but this doesn’t mean rambling sentences are acceptable. To keep the reader engaged, your word selection needs to move the narrative forward. Expanding your vocabulary will also improve your writing.
This post aims to show you where to find some great resources that provide alternatives to commonly used words and some power words to add punch.
Resource #1 – Thesaurus
The most obvious resource to find alternative words with a similar meaning is a thesaurus. This can be online or an actual hardcopy. I have both. The online version I use is Thesaurus.com. It has over 550,000 words available. The hardcopy version I have is an Oxford Thesaurus (Australian Student’s revised second edition). While they are similar, they do offer different words.
Resource #2 – Google
Another apparent resource is doing a Google search. Type in “alternative word for + (whatever you’re searching for)” and a list of options presents itself. Then it’s merely a matter of choosing the most suitable one. You may need to consult a dictionary to ensure the word you use conveys the correct meaning.
Resource #3 – Pinterest
I find Pinterest is great for lists of alternative words. You can search generally (alternative words) or specifically (alternative word for a particular term). Lots of different pins will come up. A pin is a visual post that when clicked, will take you to its online home.
I recommend saving any pins you like to a board (which you may need to create) before you start following any threads; it’s easy to get lost down the rabbit hole of information.
Pinterest will also display some other related yet useful posts. These include positive words, sentence starters, ways to end your novel, and power words. The writing related Pinterest board I created is Creative You.
Resource #4 –Tumblr
Tumblr is a collection of blogs. To do an in-depth search, you need to have an account, which is free to set up. This isn’t a requirement, however. You can still access a basic search by clicking “Here’s what’s trending”.
A word of advice about Tumblr; I’ve found you get better results with more specific searches. For example, alternatives for overused words instead of just alternative words.
Resource #5 – Twinkl
Twinkl is a resource site for teachers that’s also excellent for writers. It’s free to join (I listed my career as other) and is available for different countries.
If you’re like me and it’s been a while since you were in school, it’s a good refresher for what nouns, verbs, adjectives etc. are. These will help make your writing more active instead of passive.
There are two ways to use this site. The first is using the search function as you would with Google, Pinterest, and Tumblr. The second is the menus at the top. The section dedicated to writing sits under the EAL/D menu (English as an additional language), at least in the Australian version. Here is where you can find information on:
- Sentence structure and construction
- Tense (past and present)
It’s straightforward information to help engage your readers through a better understanding of the mechanics of writing.
Do you have any of your own writing resources to share? Feel free to comment below.
Cheers to your writing success!