bash the thesaurus

With thanks to RJ for inspiration 😉

Does your writing suffer from thesaurus-itis?

You know, you’ve gotten over the adverb-and-adjective stage of writing, and someone in a writing group says ‘you should use more interesting verbs’ and ‘you use were/was too much’.

You look at your writing and you think OMG, they’re right. So you jump at the thesaurus. And out come the interesting verbs. Perched, loomed, slanted, seeped, percolated, dissipated, etc etc.

OK, hold the thesaurus and consider the following:

The only thing worse than a piece of text in which the words were/was occur at least once every sentence (and more frequently than that) is a piece of text in which they don’t occur at all.

I use the 50% rule: use a different verb instead of were/was 50% of the time, and no one will squeak about overuse or twisted language.

While castles can happily perch on rocky outcrops, and trees are perfectly OK to loom over small cottages, before you commit to a word you’ve found in the thesaurus, consider whether or not it might, just might, sound far-fetched and ridiculous.

If in doubt, use a simple verb.

Actually, just use the simple verb, and save the more complicated one for a situation where you want to draw attention to a piece of text.

Too many crafty verbs (or nouns for that matter) = eye-bleed.


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