Friday, October 26, 2007

When Words Fail

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can’t think of the right word for something. I’ll say to my husband, “Would you mind taking a look at the thingamabob? It won’t stay closed.” (As you know, he’s not exactly Mr. FixIt, but he can handle most of the little stuff.)

If I’m lucky, he knows exactly what I mean. If not, I get a blank look. So I try again. “You know, that whatsit under the counter in the laundry room?”

“Oh,” he says. “That thingamabob.”

We writers are particular about our craft. We would never substitute the word thingamabob for the correct word (except when a character might use that word in dialogue). Can you imagine? Editors and readers would have fits!

Writers choose words carefully. When a needed word fails to come to mind it can be terribly frustrating. Luckily, fellow writer friends are there to help. If they don’t know, either, or if I don’t want to bother them, I turn to a reverse dictionary some kind soul once mentioned on one of the writing loops.

At this wonderful website you can actually find the word you want by typing in its meaning. When I needed the name of a particular kind of bench for my March 2008 book, I typed in “bench with upholstered seat.” The word I sought was at the top of a list of possibilities: banquette. Problem solved in mere seconds!

If you’re interested in checking out this little gem of a site, here’s the address:

Now it’s your turn to share. Are there any useful websites you recommend?

Until next time,
Mitch Takes A Wife, August 2007
All I Want for Christmas, November 2007


Jennifer Shirk said...

Wow. What a great site! Thanks, Ann!

Gee, I don't have any clever website recommendations, but I do use

A LOT. :)

Ann Roth said...

I checked out the site, Jennifer, and it looks like a really good one. Thanks for sharing it. :-)

Christa said...

No useful site to recomend. Sometimes words fail me too. I also find sometimes when it comes to spelling a word I am so off thjat even spell check has no idea what I'm talking about

Ann Roth said...

Christa, you made me smile. What a unique way of trying to figure out a word!

Estella said...

Don't have any websites to visit.
Just wantes to tell you I enjoyed Mitch Takes A Wife.
I live about 20 miles from Bandon, OR so I have enjoyed all of your books set in Cranberry OR.

Lily said...

I have never heard of these websites... I am going to check them out!

Nathalie said...

Ann... I have nothing to propose, but I really like your books, and Mitch takes a wife was no exception!

Ann Roth said...

Ladies- Thanks for the kind words about my books. :-)

Estella- I think you are sooo lucky to live near Bandon!

Nathalie- Are you on the west coast?

Ellen said...

Ann - I use the WKIPEDIA site frequently to locate places whose names I am not familiar with or to find a definition of a word.
My favorite word is "whatchamacallit" when I don't know the word I want.
I've been reading your books for a time now and know if your name is on a book it is a good read.

Kara Lennox said...

I have found that after a long day of writing, I just run out of words. I can't think of the most simple word or names.

Sadly, I usually resort to "thing." Not very imaginative. I can't wait to check out the reverse dictionary!

Megan Kelly said...

I'll have to check this site out. I'm always lost for the right word. Thanks for passing it along. Megan Kelly

Ann Roth said...

I like Wikipedia too! I've been told that sometimes the info is incorrect, but so far it's served my purposes just fine.

Karen, I like "thing" too, or "thingy." Covers a wealth of stuff. :-)