Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Dictionary

More Conversation about Aids for Writers . . .


Writing Aids The first post in this conversation series was on Monday, July 30th; and, we had three folks comment about which writing aids they use—from Germany, Jamaica, and Australia—all accomplished authors—three glimpses into writers’ routines…

First, Germany:

“I usually write on my laptop nowadays. When I started as a writer I scribbled on paper, but I gave that up as it’s simply too much work to transfer the text into a digital version; although, this process was a step in revision. But, I still make notes on paper, mostly because I still haven’t found the best way to organize notes. Evernote is alright for keeping track on revisions, though.

“I try not to sit at my desk when writing, which means I have to get up when I want to look up words in my printed (!) dictionary and thesaurus. I return to my desk when the revision stage starts, and then I have my dictionary close at hand. I prefer the printed and the online version, the app is uncomfortable to use.

“I have some books about writing. Some are useful, some not (to me). I believe in learning by examples, therefore I read a lot, and in learning by doing, therefore I write. It does seem to work for me ;-) “

And, here’s Jamaica:

“I’m not going to dwell on what I used to do decades ago, which is writing by hand… Once I was introduced to Wattpad, I was ‘re-hooked’ to writing—then I discovered Scrivener. It is now indispensable to me, it helps me organize my writing, and makes navigating and locating old scenes for cross-referencing and consistency very easy. There is so much more it helps with, but that was the immediate takeaway when I started using it: keeping track of all my scenes…

“Then there’s the Grammarly plugin. I particularly like the fact it explains why something might be wrong, and thus I learn from my mistakes. I use the free version and wait for when they offer discounts to subscribe to the full capabilities for 3 months when I need to.
“Another app I plan to subscribe to, when I’ve completed my novel and am ready to do some serious editing and revising, is the ProWritingAid editing tool. I tested its free 500 words-at-a-time limit editor, and its functionalities are impressive, starting from analyzing my writing. Actually, I won’t need to subscribe to Grammarly when I’m using this app.

“I might also try MasterWriter… perhaps… I came across it recently and am glancing at it out of the corner of my eye… It helps to expand the vocabulary.”

Now, Australia:

“I use Scrivener for writing the whole novel, sometimes Ulysses for short stuff ( a change is as good as a holiday); and, Inspiration, Tinderbox and Scapple for planning. I often use Dragon by Nuance for voice dictation—it could type up the Magna Carta without a mistake. I diffuse essential oils, listen to various tracks on iTunes. I meditate using Insight meditation app and I meet other writers in a virtual world to hang out together and talk about writing. They ‘aid’ me.

“I don’t like being disturbed by noise so I often wear a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones, which block out all other noise, especially noisy televisions, even if you don’t pipe music through them. They are magical.

“If I ever win the lottery, I intend to get one of those cute little garden sheds where I can work far away from the bustle of the house and ignore everyone else… :-) “

Quite a variety of writing aids—from digital to tactile…

In case you wonder about my writing aids, check out the first post in this conversation

So…

If you’re a writer, what do you use to help you get the words on the page…?

If you’re not a writer, but want to be, what aids do you think would help…?

If you have friends who write, do you know what they use as aids…?

And, you can share what writing aids you wish you had… :-)

All it takes is one comment to have this discussion continue…
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Blog Conversation about Aids for Writers . . .


Writing Aids Our last conversation—How and Why Writers Write—ended on Friday, July 27th, because it received no comments. If you go to that last link you can access all 5 of the posts in that discussion…

So

Here we go, talking about aids for writers—actually, anything that helps a writer write :-)

If your a writer, you probably use at least a few writing aids; and, you’ve more than likely tried out even more…

If you know a writer, you may have seen many different aids—on their desk or in use…

I suppose it starts for most with a pencil and/or pen; then goes to a small cluster of instruments for getting the words down on the page; then, come the different notebooks; and………

I came across a humorous yet edifying article entitled, Stationery Packing List for a Writer’s Conference. Worth reading…

Then, come the book-aids: dictionaries, thesauri, encyclopedias, even books about “how” to write (though, many writers will say there are no “rules”; but, my favorite fiction author does have a short list… And, her most famous rule is,“Follow no rule off a cliff”).

And, there must be writers who’ve started their craft on computers of various types (plus, on Wattpad, most of the folks write on their phones…)… Then, there are all the various digital aids for writing…

Long before I even thought I was a writer, I spent hour after hour inside encyclopedias, swiftly moving on to novels…

Many authors consider the act of reading a major aid to learning their craft—reading the kind of writing you want to do; and, if you’re not sure what you want to write, reading “everything”…

And, if the writer is a self-publisher, there are whatever aids that process necessitates…

Personally, I’ve gone through the stage of trying out scads of digital aids during my “apprenticeship”; but nearly all of them have slipped into the fog of the past…

Now, I read, a lot; and, I have an app on my computer that has 4 dictionaries and 2 thesauri; plus, every so often, I check the Etymology dictionary

Finally, I do all my composition in a simple .rtf word processor, use Google Docs if I need something like a Word.doc format; and Calibre for various e-book formats…

So

What writing aids do you use…?

And, if your not a writer, what do any writers you know use…?

Plus, if you can’t yet call yourself a writer, what aids are you using to become a writer…?

But, please don’t feel like no one would want to know which aids you (or, a friend) may use to help with writing—sharing it in the comments could, very well, help another writer………
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A Great Place for Writers (And, Readers) To Buy Professional Books


Quoted from the March post, How Do Words Get Into A Dictionary?:

“I subscribe to the Oxford Dictionary Pro but their free online edition of the Oxford Dictionary is good, too.

“Naturally, the dictionary is managed by the University of Oxford—”It is the oldest university in the English-speaking world, and the second-oldest surviving university in the world.”

Oxford actually has 58 different services you can subscribe to…”

They also have a Book Store.

Here are the categories:

Those are from the UK site.

If you want a different country, go here and look in the upper right for the words “Welcome To” and choose your country :-)

There are two selections I’m drooling over (maybe someday I can afford them):

companion to the bookThe Oxford Companion to the Book

First Edition

General editors: Michael Suarez SJ and H. R. Woudhuysen

  • The authoritative resource on all aspects of the book throughout the world from ancient to modern times
  • A unique combination of essays and alphabetically-arranged entries, interlinked to provide both depth of analysis and swift access to information
  • Written by over 400 of the world>’s best scholars, making this the authoritative resource on the subject
  • Imaginatively illustrated with many unique and rarely seen images

* Hardcover
* 1,408 Pages | 150 engravings & black and white photographs; 30 line drawings; plus examples of typographical features
* 10.9 x 8.6 inches
$345.00

 

historical thesaurusHistorical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary

With Additional Material from A Thesaurus of Old English

Edited by Christian Kay, Jane Roberts, Michael Samuels, and Irené Wotherspoon

  • A unique thesaurus resource – the very first historical thesaurus to be compiled for any of the world’s languages
  • The largest thesaurus resource in the world, covering more than 920,000 words and meanings from Old English to the present day based, on the Oxford English Dictionary
  • Synonyms listed with dates of first recorded use in English, in chronological order, with earliest synonyms first
  • Uses a thematic system of classification, with synonyms and related words forming part of a detailed semantic hierarchy
  • Comprehensive index enables complete cross-referencing of nearly one million words and meanings
  • Contains a comprehensive sense inventory of Old English
  • Includes a free fold-out color chart which shows the top levels of the classification structure
  • Made up of two volumes: The main text, comprising numbers sections for semantic categories, and the index, comprising a full A-Z look up of nearly one million lexical items

* Hardcover
* 3952 Pages
* 8 3/4 x 11 1/4 inches
$495.00

So

Go on over and find a few books that are within your budget :-)
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The Importance of Words ~ What’s Your Take?


Not everyone thinks words are important—ever known someone who uses about 100 words and is usually very hard to understand?

How about the person who knows 20,000 words and totally confuses you?

I’m an admitted “word-freak” but I feel I’ve learned some practical vocabularic restraint—I love to study words but I try not to use the ones that “most” folks don’t know

So, since I’m hoping some of my readers will use the Comments to share their feelings about the importance of words, but I’m clearly aware most readers don’t leave comments, I’ll share a few links to posts in the Oxford Dictionaries blog—if I see in the Stats that folks have clicked on the following links, I’ll have learned something about my readers :-)

* A very, extremely, highly, really, most *unique* opportunity!!

* Kapow! The language of comics

* Boomerang vocabulary: words that return to their origins

* Why do some words have two opposite meanings?

What are your thoughts and feelings on the importance of words?

How big should a person’s vocabulary be?

Really, no Really, what are words??

Addendum—Quotes About Words:

All these primary impulses, not easily described in words, are the springs of man’s actions.
Albert Einstein

As soon go kindle fire with snow, as seek to quench the fire of love with words.
William Shakespeare

Words, words, mere words, no matter from the heart.
William Shakespeare

In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.
Mahatma Gandhi

Eating words has never given me indigestion.
Winston Churchill

Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself.
Mark Twain

He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good.
Confucius
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A Love Affair With Words . . .


A recent survey here showed that folks wanted posts on Writing first, then Publishing, then Reading—of course, words are used in all three :-)

And, since my favorite word is “word”, one could expect that when I was growing up dictionaries and thesauruses were some of my best friends

Thing is, there are dictionaries and there are Dictionaries (same with those synonym-thingie books).

I recently let myself be influenced by Erin McKean, who’s been talked about here before.

I even did a calculation of my small budget and determined I could float $50 on my credit card for the few extra months it would take to pay off a new expense

I paid for a year’s subscription to Oxford Dictionaries Pro.

That last link actually leads you to Oxford Dictionaries (where you can use some of their wonderful features) and this link will let you subscribe to the Pro edition.

OK, I’m going to give you some reasons to consider parting with half-a-hundred-per-year but, in case you could care less, there’s a totally cool video down at the bottom of this post :-)

I should point out that the free edition does let you choose between U.S. English and World English, it does have articles on Better Writing—spelling, grammar, etc.—along with Learner’s Dictionaries and Word Puzzles; but, there’s no linked thesaurus and the writing tips are minimal (but, still, helpful).

So, the Pro Edition:

* Go from a dictionary entry straight to the thesaurus entry or vise versa.

* Browse the dictionary in various categories: Subject, Meaning, People & Places, Usage, Region, and Word Class.

* There are 1.9 million Example Sentences (fully searchable).

* It’s updated every quarter.

* Plus:

Language resources

  • Searchable complete versions of New Hart’s Rules, Pocket Fowler’s Modern English Usage, and Garner’s Modern American Usage
  • Specialist dictionaries for writers and editors include New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors, and Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage
  • Link directly from dictionary headwords to relevant chapters or entries in the Writers and Editors sections
  • Comprehensive Writing Skills including grammar and punctuation where good writing starts, style and usage to write effectively and create the right impression, and quick spelling tips
  • Use the Vocabulary Builder to enrich creative writing

* And, if you’re a librarian, there’s even more :-)

I’ll share one use I’ve made of this radically cool dictionary.

I have an excellent friend who lives in Australia (I’m in the U.S.) and I did a search that filtered the dictionary for Australian, Informal, Nouns for the words “man” and “woman” (the other Country Filters are British, Canadian, Indian English, Irish English, North American, Northern English, New Zealand, Scottish, South African, and US; the other Usage Filters are archaic, dated, derogatory, dialect, euphemistic, figurative, formal, historical, humorous, literary, rare, and technical; and, the other Word Class Filters are adjective, adverb, verb, abbreviation, conjunction, contraction, combining form, determiner, exclamation, plural noun, predeterminer, prefix, preposition, pronoun, and suffix).

There was one world for women that my friend said she’d never heard used

She even checked a well-known, specifically Australian dictionary

She mentioned another, related word that she’s heard used and the dictionary had it defined but didn’t say it was Australian usage

We had a lively discussion of the whys and where-fors of which words end up in which dictionaries

She’s going to survey her writers’ group and I’m eager to hear what they say :-)

As far as what words end up in which dictionaries and which dictionaries are best suited for certain uses plus lots of other mega-cool lexicographical information (delivered with compelling style) check out this video of Erin McKean (former principal editor of one of Oxford’s dictionaries) as she talks to the folks at Google about her profession


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