thesauruses get a bad rap

Thesaurus

I don’t often disagree with Mr. King when it comes to writing methodology, but this is one of those times.

I get it. I understand his (and some many other writers’) disdain for the thesaurus. It’s like a crutch for a crippled vocabulary. The expectation is that someone who can’t think of a synonym for ‘good’ will just turn to a thesaurus, find a suitable replacement, and drop that bad boy into their text without further thought.

And that would be bad.

But that’s not how I use a thesaurus, and that’s why I’m willing to make a risky claim. Thesauruses aren’t all bad. In fact, used the right way they can be good.

When I’m writing and I know what I want to say, but find myself stuck on a word, groping for another way to express the same thing, I go to Thesaurus.com. From there, I might browse as many as five or six variations of the concept I’m trying to convey, using the supplied synonyms to jog my memory and help me find the right word. Sometimes I go with a word Thesaurus.com suggested, and sometimes the very act of looking the word up helps me remember another word entirely.

Either way, I never, never use a word I’m not familiar with. If I need a dictionary chaser for my thesaurus shot, then that’s the wrong word.

But I don’t feel the least bit ashamed admitting that I crack open the digital pages of a thesaurus on a regular basis. Provided you’re not using it in lieu of legitimately expanding your vocab, I don’t think you should feel bad about it, either.

All due respect, Stephen. I get where you’re coming from, but I think you’re wrong. Just this once. Please still write a generously supportive blurb about my book for the back cover, as you’ve agreed to so many times in my fantasies.

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About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

One Response to thesauruses get a bad rap

  1. Good point! I also enjoy the use of a thesaurus. Sometimes, I’m just stuck on a more poetic word to use, and I find the one that best fits what I want to convey. Stephen is wrong in this case. 🙂

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