Finding the right word: Use a Word Trap

Do you ever have that stuck feeling, when you’re trying to write and you just can’t find the right word?


Or you think that everything you write sounds clichéd?


Here is a tip I got from THE WRITER’S PORTABLE MENTOR by Priscilla Long: Buy a really good dictionary, and a blank notebook, and fill it with juicy words. You should try to do this for a short period of time (less than 15 minutes) every day.


Next, make yourself a word trap, a list of words and phrases for the piece you are working on. Open your notebook, write the numbers 1 to 25 down the left-hand side, and put 2 or 3 words and phrases on each line.


Here is an example that Priscilla Long did for a piece she wrote called COMPOSITION IN YELLOW:

  1. yellow, pull, pillowcase
  2. yearning, urine, yams
  3. “yellow peril”, pearls, pee
  4. sulfur turmeric, yellow toad
  5. pear, peach, yellow pansy


As you can see, what is important about ALL of these words is that they are CONCRETE words that are perceived through the senses, rather than abstract notions that we think about.



Do you have any craft tips you’d like to share? Feel free to drop a comment in the box below.


Have a great week!



This piece first appeared in the July newsletter. If you would like to read more such tips, or hear about how my progress on THWARTED QUEEN is going, please sign up for the newsletter by clicking on the appropriate link to the right.

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