Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nenzie Wins Major Geek Points

If you lived in my computer, this is the image you would see quite frequently. Or at least, this image minus the bug eyes and me looking more studious, but I thought that would make a lame picture.

Although I consider myself to be an avid book lover, I do not often blog about the books I read. My sister Katey does a good enough job at being the regular book critic blogger that I do not feel the need unless it is something truly exemplary. This time however, I am blogging about my absolute favourite book of all time.

Yes, yes, I know what you're thinking:

"Her favourite book? How strange. One would think that her favourite book would be an actual story. What a geek my sister/ friend/ sister-in-law/ granddaughter/ cousin/ girl I have never met is."

Or, you could be suffering from the prejudice I myself was plagued with for many years:

"The thesaurus is for people who have a limited vocabulary. She must not be a very good writer if she has to use a thesaurus."

Both these thoughts are wrong, except maybe the part about me being a geek, because yes, my favourite book is the thesaurus, and I'll tell you why.

This summer, when I was beginning work on my second novel I had a task I have never faced before; I had to write a riddle. I was slightly terrified by this prospect. In grade school, I would beg off all forms of poetry by writing twenty extra pages of creative writing, I was that bad at it. Plus my cousin and fellow writer Mikyla had been written a riddle for her book, and I'd seen her agonize over it for hours. I was not looking forward to it.

One day, while I was avoiding writing by reading about writing and getting motivated whilst procrastinating, I read a tip from one of my favourite authors, Gail Carson Levine. She suggested that when trying to write riddles and jokes, to use the thesaurus and look for obscure words that worked as puns.

Not knowing what else to do for this blasted riddle, I began using the online thesaurus. I was sure it wouldn't work. After all, how do you find an obscure word for troll?

Troll noun Definition:elf. Synonyms: demon, dwarf, giant, gnome, hobgoblin, kobold, leprechaun, monster, mythical creature, ogre. See also fiend.

I saw fiend, I saw monster too, and thus began a rather peculiar hobby. In my riddle making efforts I would decide what the main ideas of a stanza and write down theme words. For example, one paragraph was about a rainforest, witches, moddiness, and hair. So I looked all these words up. I looked up other words I liked, and I'd write out all the synonyms for each. I have pages and pages in my notebook full of synonyms I liked. As a result, I wound up with a riddle I was very proud of and yet another quirky thing to do in my spare time.

Through my riddle writing, I discovered that the thesaurus is not just for people who can't think of another word for nice (likable, superior, admirable. See also excellent). Anyone can learn new big words. It's fun, even for people think they're too smart for it.
 In fact, it may even be more fun.

I discovered the old thesaurus pictured above on our family bookshelf, and I've boobishayed it (that is actually a Redd family word for borrowing and then just keeping as your own. In a family with five girls and five closets, we needed a term for this). It rests on my desk and is used often. Just last night I was writing a cover letter for this advanced writing class I am applying for next semester, and guess what I used to make myself sound smart? That's right, the thesaurus.

So next time you can't quite find the word to describe what you mean, don't be too cool for the thesaurus, pull yours out or go to the online one. You will find the experience most remunerative (rewarding).


Zoey (Vegedible) said...

I have the same thesaurus!

I decided that I could learn new words if I wrote down all the words the prof says that I don't understand in my Journalism Theory & Practice class, as well as the words that I suspect he invents like 'evolutionarily' (which is indeed a word, but still, a little fake-sounding).

Katey said...

Truly exemplary?! Let it be known that I only blog about exceptional books-otherwise why burble about them? But I agree about the thesaurus (by the way what was that writing book you were reading?)

reddy said...

Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly by Gail Carson Levine. You can borrow my copy if you want.

Karyn said...

.So that is where my missing thesaurus is! Maybe I need to buy more because Peter was looking for a thesaurus today too for an english project. Are we all geeks or what?