Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Thesaurus

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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“Wordnik Is Looking for a Million Missing Words—Can You Help?”


The title of this post was the subject line of an email I got yesterday. Wordnik

Wordnik is an online dictionary/thesaurus; and, if you didn’t know, a thesaurus is what shows you the synonyms of words. And, Wordnik also shows you a word’s etymology—its word-history

Or, in their own words, “…we’re the world’s biggest and friendliest English dictionary.”

Then, they told me:

“This is just a quick email to let you know that Wordnik launched a Kickstarter campaign today!”

Before I share about the Kickstarter campaign, I should let Wordnik tell you a bit more about itself:

“Every word at Wordnik gets its own full page, with as much data shown as possible: a standard definition (if one already exists), example sentences; synonyms, antonyms, and other related words; space for community-added tags, lists, and comments; images from Flickr and tweets from Twitter; and statistics on usage, including how many times a word has been favorited, listed, tagged, commented-upon, and, of course, whether or not it’s valid in Scrabble (and how many points it scores).”

And, here’s more about the Kickstarter campaign:

“We want to find a million words that haven’t been included in major English dictionaries and give them each a home on the Internet.

“At Wordnik we believe that every word of English deserves to be lookupable!

“The internet is, for all practical purposes, infinite. Wordnik can and should include every English word that’s ever been used.”

Why?

“Every word deserves a recorded place in our language’s history. We want to collect, preserve, and share every word of English, and provide a place where people can find, learn, annotate, comment on, and argue about every word.

“If you want to know more about a word—any word!—we want to help you find the information you need. If you’re curious about a word, why should you have to wait until someone else decides that a word is worth knowing?”

And, in case you need even more reason to go check out the Kickstarter campaign:

“We already have all these words in English! They exist right now in articles, books, blog posts, and even tweets. But they’ve never all been recorded in one place where they can be discovered and loved.

“Have you ever felt that the right word was out there, but you just couldn’t find it?

“Have you ever learned a weird word that made your whole day? Perhaps a word like thoil, which means ‘to be able to justify the expense of a purchase’? Or pandiculation, which means ‘yawning and stretching (as when first waking up)’?”

Here’s Wordnik’s Kickstarter link again :-)
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Whose Words Are You Using?


I was checking out an article on Slate about the misuse of the thesaurus and found a link to a fascinating education site.

plagiarism

Image Courtesy of Raphael Pinto ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/knox_x

Well, actually a site that educators use—Turnitin—“…the global leader in evaluating and improving student learning.”

We all know that many students “borrow” words during their research and use them as their own.

And, I’m sure there are creative writers who do the same…

It’s called Plagiarism—its root meanings come from “kidnapping” and “thief”.

Flash Quiz:

How many kinds of plagiarism are there?

………

Well, according to a Whitepaper from Turnitin, there are 10 types of word theft:

1. CLONE:

An act of submitting another’s work, word-for-word, as one’s own.

2. CTRL-C:

A written piece that contains significant portions of text from a single source without alterations.

3. FIND–REPLACE:

The act of changing key words and phrases but retaining the essential content of the source in a paper.

4. REMIX:

An act of paraphrasing from other sources and making the content fit together seamlessly.

5. RECYCLE:

The act of borrowing generously from one’s own previous work without citation; To self plagiarize.

6. HYBRID:

The act of combining perfectly cited sources with copied passages—without citation—in one paper.

7. MASHUP:

A paper that represents a mix of copied material from several different sources without proper citation.

8. 404 ERROR:

A written piece that includes citations to non-existent or inaccurate information about sources

9. AGGREGATOR:

The “Aggregator” includes proper citation, but the paper contains almost no original work.

10. RE-TWEET:

This paper includes proper citation, but relies too closely on the text’s original wording and/or structure.

Ever used any of those?

Do you think some of them aren’t actually “theft”?
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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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