In part one of this series, I talked about strong verbs. Part two featured a rant essay about the thesaurus. And now we come to part three, which is about the word book. It could also be titled, write the word down, stupid. (For those of you youngsters, or people with short memories, I'm riffing off the slogan that won Bill Clinton the election, way back in the days of yore. The slogan, "Its the economy, stupid," was posted on election headquarters walls to remind workers what the key issue was. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Except this time I'm pretty sure that Obama doesn't need reminding.)
Anyway, strong verbs and word books.
Behold, images of my very own word book: I know, I know, the photos are not the best, but I am proud of them nonetheless, because I so rarely manage to illustrate posts with photos. They are clear enough, I hope, for you to get the gist. My word book is a cute little (5 by 8 ish) purple binder with A to Z tabs and in it I write down, wait for it, words.
The genesis of my word book stems from my MFA years. One of my mentors, Melissa Pritchard, gave a lecture in which she talked about a word book that she had begun years ago and now could not live without. I had a writer's crush on Melissa and vowed to emulate every single thing that she did, ever. And so I started my own word book, not having the first clue what hers actually contained. I just liked the idea of having a book full of vital words that I carried with me everywhere.
At first I laboriously wrote new words in my word book, looked up the definition, and then wrote that down, too. A nice idea, and I do love all the words I've defined in my book. And even though it is fun to leaf through and admire the words, I find this approach is not terribly useful. After all, how do I know what word I'm looking for? I have to confess that this wee problem made me set aside the word book for a few, gasp, years.
But since I've been on my Verb Safari, I am reconfiguring the word book. Mostly now I'm using it to write down verbs. Strong verbs, weak verbs, verbs based on nouns, verbs I made up, verbs that don't make any sense. The best way to find good verbs is to start becoming aware of them. And once you find them, write them down. Make your own word book. Write them on index cards (my new favorite way to keep track of ideas). Write them on scraps of paper, throw them in a basket, and look over them every once in awhile. Doesn't matter where you write them, but do it. And while you're add it write down other words that catch your fancy, also. You'll find your verb use and your vocabulary improving drastically.
So that's it, my three-part series on verb use. If you find any good verbs, share them with me, would you? I'd appreciate it.