I had admiral goals when I stated to my critique partner that I wanted to expand my vocabulary. The issue was in execution.
Read the dictionary, was the first thing we thought of.
Then realized that retention of those words would be dismal. We’d have to create an exercise to make the words become organic in our minds. Something we could draw on in later stories and drafts. So this is what we came up with.
We opened the dictionary to three random entries selecting the words: standing, full-faced, and sensitive. We agreed these three words must be in the story we would write and would have to be understood within context. I’d recommend selecting words that are new to you, not random words like we did. I think our retention of new words would’ve been better if we had.
Second we agreed not exceed 500 words in whatever we decided to write.
Now the twist. Once you’ve written your story open up the thesaurus and change as many words as you can without changing the story plot itself. Are you with me? You go through your story WORD BY WORD and pick different ones from the thesaurus. If you don’t know how to use a digital thesaurus now’s the time to get familiar.
It took me three times as long to do the word switch than it did to actually write the draft. I will also say that my second draft was NOT entirely better because of the exercise (my critique partner nearly fell out of her chair laughing at the difference, not in a good way either).
Why was it not better? Because as a seasoned writer many of the first words I chose really were the RIGHT words for the story. But looking through some of the other words I found stronger words for the theme and meaning I was trying to get across.
The point is that changing ALL the words wasn’t right nor was it right to LEAVE all the first words. It’s a mix. All in all I like the exercise and I’ll be using it to hone my drafts in the future.
So did I learn any new words? Nope not a one. Do you have a vocabulary exercise that works for you? Let me know in the comments please!