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6 Comments

  • King’s book was definitely a good read, though I do disagree with his thesaurus rule. I’ve found that a thesaurus is often just the tool to find the right word. Sometimes a description needs a slightly different emotion than is indicated by the word that comes to mind, and in that case, a thesaurus can jog my memory to find just the right shade of meaning.

  • That’s a good phrase ‘the right shade of meaning’ and I guess that is what native speakers get that non-native speakers struggle with – it’s tough to get the subtle differences in shades between words. It takes up a lot of teaching time trying to explain why some words can’t simply be substituted for others even though they have more or less the same meaning in a thesaurus. Ah, the subtleties of language …
    My next favourite quote from King: ‘the adverb is not our friend’ – that’s one I totally, wholeheartedly, completely and fully agree with! 🙂

  • King’s On Writing was very good indeed. His personal story is quite inspiring and his advice is mostly practical and sensible. I don’t agree with his thesaurus rule, though, for much the same reasons that Nathanael mentions. Sometimes the right word stubbornly evades recollection, and needs to be poked out of hiding.

    Some of the best film adaptations of King’s work, incidentally, are not horror at all: Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, Dolores Claiborne.

  • On the other hand, in this book, King says, and underlines it quite strongly, that a writer, if he/she wants to achieve a success and create a good story, needs to read kilograms of books every month, or listen to them in a car or some portable devices, like iPod or something. So, as far as I disagree with the phrase of not looking into a thesaurus dictionary, which in my opinion may be a good way of avoiding repetitions, for example, I understand that he wants people to enrich their vocabulary and top their fluency in writing by, first of all, reading and getting to know the language in THIS way.

  • Hi Asia.pl,
    Yes, I think King’s argument is: the more you read, the greater your vocabulary, the more naturally the right word will come out. In all my creative writing experience I don’t think I’ve ever found the right word in a thesaurus, I think this has something to do with subtlety (the ‘shades of meaning’ Nathanael talked about – although he used it in pretty much the opposite way!), but in other kinds of writing I have found a thesaurus pretty useful. My point is that if you are a language learner, the subtle shades of meaning are quite evasive and using a thesaurus can render you incomprehensible (rather than: difficult, complex, elaborate or contorted…).