The Thesaurus Is Your Friend

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully

by Catherine L. Tully

This post has only one purpose and that is to convince you of what I already know…if you aren’t already doing it…

Finding just the right word for an article, essay or even bio can make all the difference in the world. For this mighty task, I turn to my thesaurus.

Now I know a lot of people who think that somehow this is a form of “cheating”. That if the inspired word doesn’t hit you while you are penning the piece it is somehow less valid.

And I’m here to tell you that it isn’t true.

The reader has no idea what it took for you to make/write the piece what it is when they consume it. They don’t really care either. The fact is, the piece will either impact them or it won’t, and it doesn’t matter if you had a little help finding the right words to reach them.

Now I don’t advocate using a thesaurus just to find big, fancy words to use. That can actually backfire on you and alienate the reader. But choosing a good word instead of an “ok” word is definitely effective. I will write my draft, edit it, and then go into the thesaurus to select a few well-chosen substitutes for the more generic version I used the first time around.

Notice I said a few. I don’t recommend churning out a ton of unfamiliar words or changing all of the typical usage to less-common versions. But as you read, see if you can’t improve your choices a bit. Pick a few words and look for something better. It really can make a difference.

I’d love to hear from readers–does anyone else out there use a thesaurus?