Creating one's own lexicon
I’ve just discovered a great new book for writers. New to me that is; it was first published 2010 and the second edition, which I am reading, is dated 2018. It’s The Writer’s Portable Mentor by Priscilla Long.
I first got the sample from Kindle, just to make sure, and then forgot about it a while. When I finally came to read it, I knew I had to get the whole book. Unpleasant surprise: it’s expensive for an ebook. $18.59 US dollars. Some second-hand paperback copies are cheaper! I got the ebook anyway, because I like ebooks, this one contains so much and such excellent content that it somewhat excuses the price, and at least one doesn’t have to pay shipping – and because I could not bear to be without this book.
Some things in the early chapters, which are as far as I’ve read yet, are not new to me; they are even things I’ve tried before. But Long explains them in more depth, and adds new layers. For instance, I have kept lists before of words that take my fancy, and used them. But she suggests buying a special small notebook to be one’s Lexicon, dividing each page in half to give two words to a page, and adding useful information under each. She also likes to play with large dictionaries! It’s not about finding fancy or unfamiliar words so much as those which delight you for whatever reason. She tells us: The rule is, put in only the good words, the juicy words, the hot words.
Not that one always wishes to embellish or heighten one’s writing. There are times when something very plain and spare is warranted. She says:
How much language to use is the writer’s choice, always. But to use a limited vocabulary because in reality you only command a limited vocabulary produces a result entirely different from what you might produce in a spare style spun out of an ample and ever-growing word list.
Dear wordsmiths, I await your words, be they juicy or spare, in poetry or prose, old or new. Please keep prose to 369 words maximum (excluding title). Please add the url to Mister Linky below, and leave us a comment if you feel so inclined. A link back to us on your blog post would be appreciated.
Next Wednesday Magaly will invite us to write poetry or prose from the
point of view of a character in a painting. Your post should include the
painting or a link where other poets and storytellers can look at it. Significantly
rewritten pieces are welcomed, as well as new ones.