Word Lists - the Writer’s secret arsenal
Posted on Jan 17, 2016 by Blackwick
A few weeks ago, one of my writing associates opened my eyes about a writing secret tool I have always taken for granted: Word Lists. As she gathered the writing samples we have just finished discussing, she pointed at my writing desk and let out an excited shriek.
‘Word lists!’ she cupped her cheeks ‘I use them too!’
While she ruffled through my paper stack, I saw her voice taking a more serious tone. Unexpectedly, she looked business-like.
‘Where did you get this?’
I resumed to explaining I have slowly built my own wordlist over the decades; that I've been collecting words since I was 15, arranging them in topic-relevant categories with the sole purpose of enriching and inspiring my writing.
‘Yours is enormous! I've never seen one like it. How much for it?’
Suddenly, we were talking business.
She wouldn't hear it was not for sale; that I've created it for my own writing purpose and no other; that all the 9000 alphabetically-arranged words were simply there to help me build and develop my Characters, Settings, Dialogues, Descriptions and Narrative; that my articles and blog posts pretty much depended on the descriptives and modifiers included therein; that any headline I might attempt would fade without my collection of power verbs. She saw it as a ready-made product and was astounded I have not thought of publishing it yet.
‘This could help writers’ she told me ‘All writers. Did I tell you how I have one myself? Mine’s a little over a page long and I never found one longer than that. Every writer I know uses Word Lists, but none ever thought of publishing theirs’
And then I understood. A writer's greatest instrument was of course, "the word". A writer's ability to turn a phrase was directly linked to how powerful their arsenal of words was. Unknowingly, I had created a resource to fulfil an old need.
If for whatever reason, a writer could not find their words, words would come about to finding them instead.
I instantly recognized the curveball in my court, and immediately remembered my countless encounters with big names from the writing and publishing business. They had all used Word Builders. They had all used Word Lists. Those with a limited time at hand had been searching for a good one for the greater part of their writing career. I distinctly remembered being asked whether I could recommend them any good writing resources just to respond in an unwitting shrug. A need for words had existed for the longest time; I just never saw it.
‘Don’t keep it for yourself’ bode my writing associate. ‘This could help millions of writers!’
Three full weeks of uninterrupted work, and it was published. I found it necessary to include a comprehensive explanation of how to use the Word Lists, fully equipped with tips, best practices and examples. I have split my List into sublists, each bound by a separate subject. It is how the Word List came to contain:
A. Character Word List: Feelings, Mores, Traits and Characteristics
B. Settings-Building Thesaurus: Sound, Sight, Touch, Taste, Smell, Patterns and Shapes
C. Character-Building List: Verbs, Descriptives, Modifiers and Values
D. Narrative Word-Building List: Alternatives to SAID, LOOKED and WENT/WALKED
A thorough market research revealed a second surprise: not only my product was unique, but it turned out to be the most extensive, topic-oriented Word Building List ever assembled in the English language. I may not have recognized my secret tool for what it was, but my fellow writers welcomed it warmly, and are calling for it still.
If you’re curious to read more about this Writing Helper, or you're interested to purchase, the Word Lists are available on Amazon, here.
Luise Beatrice is an editor, publisher and author, specialized in novel sagas, genre categories and bestseller theory. She is the owner of Creascriptum, an English publishing house and content-developing agency.