We all know the struggle of trying to find the perfect word/ phrase/ metaphor or even trying to find new words to add to your arsenal of fresh new ways to express things.
The good news is that is that you don’t really need to do all of that, since there is a goldmine that we all have but don’t always make creative use of. Something that I notice that writing books tend to not tell you, especially when it comes to description writing is that…
1.) Words are more flexible than you think.
Now you maybe wondering what I mean, but let me give you example,
Take the word ‘jigsaw’ for example. As I’m typing this, there are about 3 definitions: 1) the puzzle, 2) a mystery, and 3) some kind of machine saw that will have absolutely nothing to do with this post. The definitions all nouns, and if we take them at the face-value then they don’t have much use.
But if I write something like: the answer jigsawed in my mind or the world jigsaws into place, you probably still understand what I mean. And you’d also noticed that in this case, jigsaw is a verb now, which isn’t a feature of the actual definition.
You’ve probably done this at some point without thinking about it or maybe you do it all the time, but I want to bring this up as a proper technique because the stories with writing that ‘pop’, excluding their characters, plots, thematical value, often use this to great success.
2.) Creative Prose Doesn’t Mean Knowing A Whole Bunch Of Fancy Words It Means Knowing How To Give Simple Words Extraordinary Uses
We’ve all heard of purple prose. And I admit, there’s nothing that grinds my gears more than when I see someone abuses ‘equine mammal’ when horse does just fine or ‘extrapolate’ when someone could’ve used deduce/hypothesize/assume/ or something else more accessible that makes a lot more damned sense.
Oh but if you really want to drive readers away and make someone see red, take that big fancy word and use it incorrectly. 😛
But seriously… the easiest way to spice up your writing without being attached to a dictionary like a conjoined twin is to switch up parts of speech to your needs. Don’t be discouraged because you look up a definition to a word and see it doesn’t have your particular use.
But on the other hand…
3.) You Can’t Just Ignore Definitions Either
Meaning that you still have to respect the essence of a definition. Obviously you can’t do things like say west when you really mean tractor. You can’t say dragon when you really mean drive unless you previously establish that kind of relationship earlier in the story. In my jigsaw example earlier, my use of jigsaw still relates to putting puzzles together.
The main take away from all this is to not be afraid of using words in places you ordinarily wouldn’t think of. Hopefully this helps some of you out there who feel like you just can’t seem to find the right word sometimes.
You might already know it. 😉