Saturday, April 4, 2015

D: Flip Dictionary

My theme for the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year is a mishmash of books, movies, writers and TV shows that have in one way or another taught me something about writing and helped me be a better writer. Some inspired my own stories and a few taught me what not to do. Each post is a one minute lesson on writing. Don't forget to visit the IWSG where the co-host are sharing inspiration for all of April. And today, I'm sharing some ideas to help you get through the A to Z without injury.

No author wants their writing to sound like the thesaurus sat open on their desk the entire time. Yet the more you write, the more likely you are to recognize when you're over-using certain words. How many times can you call a character 'timid.' Thanks to my Flip Dictionary by Barbara Ann Kipfer, Ph.D, I could call describe that character as bashful, hesitant, meek, mousy or one of a dozen other choices that come from my Flip Dictionary. Sometimes I use it when I can't quite think of the word I want. I look up a synonym of the word I want and viola, the Flip Dictionary reveals the word that was hiding on the tip of my tongue. I've used my copy of this reference book so many times that the pages are falling out. My children borrowed it when writing papers for school. I do have a thesaurus. It's look brand new as if never opened.

Lesson: Don't sound like a thesaurus in your writing as if you're trying to impress someone with your vocabulary. But also take care not overuse words. Common words are better than an esoteric, recherche or abstruse word. (See what I did there?)

Our family will celebrate Easter tomorrow just by getting together and sharing a meal. There will be an empty spot because my daughter won't make it home from college. Hopefully the weather will permit some outdoor time. I'll probably spend some time during the day visiting a few more blogs even though it's a day off for A to Z. Don't feel obliged. A day off can recharge you but you can also use it to catch up if you want.

"Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right or better." John Updike

Do you ever use a thesaurus? Have you heard of the Flip Dictionary? Are you taking tomorrow off from blogging? Did the first week of A to Z go as you thought it would?

80 comments:

  1. I look up synonyms to find the word I'm actually after and can't think of too :) I tend to use Word's Thesaurus and if that doesn't work leap onto Google for some help :).
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. I do that too, Natasha. Sometimes I can't come up with the exact word I want. I look it up in my Flip Dictionary and hope to find the one I need.

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  2. I've seen some who pull big words out once or twice in a big and that is it, kinda silly. But yeah, have to avoid over use too.

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    1. You are a word master. Sometimes I look up words you use and make sure they're real.

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  3. wow! That's a great lesson.My writing style is simple and I cannot use those unique words..thanks for firming by belief in that :)

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  4. I'm sorry your daughter won't get to join you.
    I'm going to pick up the Flip Dictionary right now!

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    1. I sent her a care package but for our family, holidays are about getting together and sharing our thanks that we're all there.
      You'll like the Flip.

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  5. You do find pet words and speech patterns when you write. That is a great resource.

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    1. I have about three words I use way too much. At least I know it now.

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  6. In defense of the recherche and abstruse: sometimes those words have deeper connotations and are therefore better suited to your meaning than their common equivalents. And sometimes you just want to fancy it up! :-)

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  7. Sorry your daughter won't be home for Easter; I know she'll be missed. That's a good resource for a writer with the Flip Dictionary. Happy Easter!

    betty

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  8. New to the Flip Dictionary. Enjoy dinner tomorrow. I'm sure your daughter will miss you too.

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    1. It's sad to hear what kind of things college kids end up having for their holiday meals. Makes you cry.

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  9. Thanks for the tip with the flip dictionary. Will be ordering one of these, I have loved the thesaurus over the years but have also found myself simplifying more language. My husband seems to use a thesaurus talking to our kids and I am constantly asking them if they understand, which they don't. Hopefully, though, they are extending their vocabulary through this process.
    In terms of Easter, it's pouring in Sydney and we're snuggled up indoors on a beach holiday;
    I am enjoying the A-Z Challenge. This is my first time so a bit of a learning experience...especially with Twitter.

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    1. My daughter speaks to her brothers like a thesaurus but they're not interested in expanding their vocabs. Hopeless

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  10. I use two thesauruses, and I use the one that comes with Word. I would be lost without them, although if you read my books, you'd never guess I used them at all! :-)

    Annalisa, writing A-Z vignettes, at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep

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    1. I'm better at keeping it simple than I used to. I still open that Flip dictionary now and then.

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  11. I sometimes use a thesaurus, never heard of the flip dictionary, something else to discover :0)

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  12. I have a Rodale Synonym Finder - the first book I bought for myself as a writer. (I was 13, it was my own money, and I wanted to be "serious" about my craft - plus, the son of the bookstore owner was cute.) Also, I use thesaurus.com online. I don't want to sound overly clever or like a thesaurus, but some words like "put" and "turn" and "look" need synonyms badly. The Flip Dictionary sounds like fun.

    Happy Easter! I hope you can at least have some good phone time with your daughter. Have a lovely weekend!

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    1. I don't know of the Rodale but it sounds a lot like the Flip dictionary.

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  13. I wish "Flip Dictionary" was an online source. I prefer those.

    Precious Monsters

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    1. I like the hard copy for while I'm writing but whatever works for you.

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  14. I love the combination dictionary/thesaurus. Bought one for my son, but I use it more than he does.

    Great post! Glad to see you on the A-to-Z !

    Cherdo
    www.cherdoontheflipside.com

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    1. Those are the best presents. The ones you get for the kids and you get to use it.

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  15. I've seen the Flip Dictionary but haven't purchased one. I do have the big thesaurus though and find it very helpful when I get a brain freeze.

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    1. Brain freeze is a good term for it. I certainly get it sometimes.

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  16. Flip Dictionary - I shall go investigate.

    A to Z - I made it through the first week. Hurrah! Its fun and quite challenging.

    Stuart
    www.stuartlennon.com

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    1. Congrats on making it through. I think it gets easier after the first week when you get accustomed to what you can do.

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  17. I could probably use one of those. I get stuck a lot of times when I'm hunting for just the right word.

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    1. That's when I use it most. When I have almost the right word, but not quite.

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  18. Yes, I do love to use my thesaurus. Sometimes it's more because I can't think of the exact word I want rather than trying to cut repetitive words.

    But I do like using "esoteric". It's just a fun word to say.

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    1. That is a fun word. I have to try and work it in.

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  19. Great post Susan - haven't seen the fli[p dictionary but will have to check it out.
    You visited my art blog but am actually posting A-Z on my writing blog: http://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com
    Do we share somewhere else other than our blog??

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    1. I finally found your blog. Hope we get it fixed on the list soon. The link was taking us to your other blog.

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  20. I need this dictionary! I sure love a good thesarus when I'm stuggling to come up with a good words. Thanks for telling us about it.

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    1. I don't even use my thesaurus any more since I have my Flip.

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  21. Never heard of the Flip Dictionary, but it sounds great. I do have a Thesaurus on my desk and use it, but as you said, sparingly. Easter will be a quiet day for us as we'll be home. The kids are gone but I'm sure we'll talk during the day. Thanks for dropping by! Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

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    1. I'll have the five boys here and my daughter will call. At least there will be a lot of food appreciation going on.

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  22. Word repetition is something I have to watch out for when I'm editing. I can get pretty bad at it. I have a thesaurus bookmarked, and thankfully, it lists other words that might work better.

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Member of C. Lee's Muffin Commando Squad
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

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    1. Yes, those durn repetitive words. "Just' is my big one.

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  23. I use a thesaurus more than I ever have. Old age? The A to Z has gone well, and have enjoyed reading posts from unknown bloggers.

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    1. LOL. I guess I can blame in on old age too.

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  24. That sounds really handy. I'll admit, I've got a habit of just going to Google and typing in "synonym for..."

    A dictionary would mean you'd be less likely to be distracted by searches and social media though!

    Cait @ Click's Clan

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    1. Google can be a dangerous door to open. I like having the hard copy.

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  25. This is the first time I've heard of the Flip Dictionary, sounds like a great tool. That empty spot at the table must feel like a huge hole, hopefully your daughter will be back home soon.

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    1. My five boys will be here but it's not the same without her. Her college is too far away to come home. We'll phone or Skype.

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  26. My child is like Einstein, except with messier hair. So when I can't think of a word, I screech his name in a pitch the only Dolphins can hear and he usually provides an alternative. He is my very own human Flip Dictionary.

    Just passing by to say thank you for visiting and commenting on my post. :)

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    1. Can you loan that child out? My husband is the spelling expert when I can't spell a word close enough for spell check to even guess.

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  27. I've never used a thesaurus and never heard of a Flip Dictionary. Until now! Thank you :)

    --Mee (The Chinese Quest)

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  28. I do use the thesaurus but only occasionally and not usually to find strange words that I never use but just to get my mind into a new groove of other words to utilize.

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  29. I have never heard of the Flip Dictionary, but rely on my Microsoft word thesaurus a lot. Thanks for the information, and the questions. I found the first week of the Challenge exhausting, partly because I was writing posts from scratch for A-C, and partly because I was away right beforehand and so had a lot to catch up on with other things. But also kind of exhilarating. I plan to do a little organizing tomorrow of the next week's posts--most of which will be writing I've already done. The Challenge has definitely delivered where I'd hoped it would--getting me into a better habit of writing and visitation, and upping my blog's profile.

    http://shrinkrapped.com/

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    1. Glad you found the first week to be crazy fun. Ditto here. It will actually get easier as you settle into a habit like you said.

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  30. Hey Susan!

    I've never heard of the Flip Dictionary... and what a cool idea it is :)

    I just really have to stop using "just" and "really" a lot less :)

    Have a Happy Easter and I hope you can at least chat with your daughter :)

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    1. Happy Easter to you, Mark. Hope it's fun in your new home. I over use Just also. My daughter will phone from Boston and I sent her a care package.

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  31. Susan -- thanks for reminding me about a great resource!

    Yvonne

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    1. It is and it's not that expensive. Mine is falling apart from overuse.

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  32. I've got a Flip too. Sorry your daughter won't be home:( Hope it's still a great one for you.

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    1. Yes, another Flip user. We'll have fun but we'll miss her.

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  33. I've never heard of the Flip Dictionary, but it sounds like a great tool! I personally use Chambers, which professes itself as the dictionary/thesaurus of writers. But have a dictionary that lets you do a backwards lookup would be really nifty. Thanks for sharing!

    Alex Hurst, A Fantasy Author in Kyoto
    A-Z Blogging in April Participant

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  34. Flip dictionary sounds like such an helpful resource, Susan. I need a better alternative to Google as I get easily distracted, and lose precious time. I do prefer hardcopies. Will look this one up. Thanks for sharing. :)

    *Shantala @ ShanayaTales*

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  35. Hi Susan - I get frustrated if I can't think of the right word, and sometimes if it's not relevant work my way round it .. ! But the Flip dictionary sounds a fun addition to reference books ..

    Hope you're enjoying your family time - cheers Hilary

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  36. Susan, I never heard of the Flip Dictionary, and I LOVE word reference books. Thanks for the great tip. Happy A to Z Sunday off. Jeri (storytellingmatters.wordpress.com)

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  37. Nice to meet another fantasy author, Susan!

    I haven't heard of the Flip Dictionary before, so thanks for the tip. Of course, when possible, it's best to show someone being timid instead of coming up with new ways to say it.

    I'm blogging SF/fantasy women for A-Z, so please stop by if you're interested. (ulbrichalmazan.blogspot.com)

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  38. Neat. I do have a couple of words that I know I use way too often...

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

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  39. Hey Susan! I'd never heard of a Flip Dictionary before. Great tip!

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  40. The flip dictionary looks really cool! Thanks for sharing. Hope you and your family have a great Easter. http://nadinefeldman.com

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  41. This sounds like a really useful tool. And everyone likes flipping through books to find information. Well, I do.

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  42. The Flip Dictionary sounds like a wonderful tool. Thanks, Susan! Untethered Realms

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  43. Sorry to read about the empty chair.

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  44. Thanks for the tips Susan. True enough some words just keep playing on one's mind wanting to be used. It is ok in blogging as it is not part of another posting. But not in a compilation that others read through for many pages!

    Hank

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  45. i think one should use the words one knows intimately.

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  46. My incredibly smart 15 year old daughter is often pointing out and groaning about authors using the same word repeatedly to describe things in a book or series. Now, I realize sometimes, rarely, this can be used as a device. Most of the instances she points out is just bad writing and editing. So, I give this post an A+ for any would be or current authors.
    Life & Faith in Caneyhead
    I am Ensign B ~ One of Tremp's Troops with the
    A to Z Challenge

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  47. Very nice and interesting post! I'll be back for more on this subject.

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  48. Very nice and interesting post! I'll be back for more on this subject.

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  49. Flip Dictionary has caught my attention!
    I'll check it out.

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  50. How did you know I had the thesaurus open?

    Heather

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