Lots Of Synonyms…

All the Syns

Happy Wednesday, fabulous readers!

This post is especially for the writers out there. My lovely friend and writing-partner-in-crime, Robin Woods, has a wonderful BLOG where she shares lots and lots of writing resources for FREE. I have her permission to share some of what she has written on her blog, and I thought the resources below would be especially helpful.

Today, we’re talking synonyms. I’ve touched on the subject before, and one year I even received backfire from some overzealous, newbie NaNo writers who took Leonard’s advice on just using “said” for dialogue rather religiously (and erroneously).

Look…here’s the deal. I have taught English in various forms for the past 14 years. I have been writing fiction since the age of 10. I have incorporated classic literature into my teaching curriculum. I’m a trained copywriter. I’ve edited over 25 books in the past year and a half. I have written 3 books and counting. This year alone, I have read 34 novels in varying genres. Though I don’t like thrusting my credentials out there, sometimes I feel it’s necessary to assert myself and my experience. I know there is ALWAYS something new to learn, but when it comes down to it, I have many, many years under my belt of knowing the English language intimately. Therefore, I tend to roll my eyes when inexperienced writers tout some other writer’s philosophy at me, arguing that they know best. (And, yes, I am FULLY aware of the intentional repetition of “have,” in the above paragraph, thank you very much.)

Rules were made to be broken. Rules were also made to make our prose tight, intelligent, and evocative. Finding the balance between the two can be tricky, but it can be done. Trust me on this one.

So, back to synonyms, which I definitely think should be used in order to cut all the repetition in our writing, as well as improve its flow. Synonyms are necessary at times, unnecessary at others. And this is where practice comes into play. Unless you devote the time to practice writing, unless you devote the time to read as often as you can, you will have a hard time mastering the art and craft of the written word. Is it fine to use “said” after dialogue more often than other words? Sure, I think so. But a talented writer will either use a different where needed, OR weave the sentence in such a way that it isn’t needed at all. Like I said, there’s a fine line.

For further thoughts/examples on my case for using synonyms, you can check out this post: Arguments for Using Synonyms.

And now, here are some FREE resources for you, courtesy of Robin Woods. Feel free to send her a tweet of gratitude, or leave a comment after this post (I love it when you guys talk to me). Enjoy!

Other Words for Asked, Replied, Sat, Was, & LaughClick HERE to download the file for personal use.

Other Words for Whisper

Click HERE to download the file for personal use.

Other Words for Happy Sad MadClick HERE to download the file for personal use.

Self-Editing in 9 Easy Steps

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

I write EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even if it’s texting, I consider that a form of writing. Most of the time, however, I write at least an e-mail and blog post each day. Culturally, many of us have become lazy in regards to self-editing/proofreading what we write. In a world where our version of shorthand is “TTYL” or “U” for “You,” abbreviations are the gateway to lazy writing and lazy editing.

Let’s change that.

Since the age of 12, I’ve taken self-editing very seriously. I’m nowhere near perfect, but my “editing detective eyes” have become better and better as time has progressed. Taking your own communications seriously will prompt others to take you seriously, too. Trust me on this one.

I’ve created some resources to help you out with self-editing. These resources don’t replace another set of eyes (or a professional editor), but they will help immensely, especially if you’re helter skelter when it comes to your own writing.


This checklist is simple and straightforward:

1. Check spelling—don’t rely on spell check for everything, either!

2. Check grammar—ditto to the above ^

3. Proofread your article, e-mail, blog, etc. at least 3xs—don’t be lazy!

4. Review the context/meaning of your wording
-Did you use the right words? (See the common grammar mistakes info graphic below)
-Do you have misplaced/dangling modifiers? http://www.writingcentre.uottawa.ca/hypergrammar/msplmod.html
-Is your message clear and concise?
-Did you cut/edit unnecessary wording?

5. Check your dates & times (if applicable)

6. Check your sources (if applicable)

7. Check your links (if applicable) NO ONE appreciates a broken/incorrect link

8. If you are sending an e-mail, double check your recipient list (and if it’s not an inter-office communication, best practice is to BCC recipients to protect privacy)

9. If working in a Word/Pages document, save often

You can find my checklist on Evernote (I’ve shared it publicly) by clicking HERE. Feel free to copy it to your own Evernote notebook so you can actually use the check boxes that are not shown in this post.

I’ve also made an infographic (my first!) about common grammar mistakes. Check it out by clicking HERE.

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 1.45.10 PM

There are, of course, so many more elements to editing, but this is a great start. The resources here can definitely get you through your next e-mail or blog post. However, if you find yourself in need of a professional editor, well…you know where to find me. Happy editing!