Writing is considered a skill that is developed naturally, especially in the flow of words that ultimately stitch a complete story together.
When I taught high school English myself, I noticed the advice was sometimes misinterpreted. Other students would make heavy use of a thesaurus, picking unusual verbs.
Better thesaurus enthusiasts do make sure their readers could nevertheless deduce the meaning from context. Word ninjas choose verbs not only for their dictionary definitions but for their connotations, associations and how they fit into your overall symbol web.
Nothing wrong with it really, and it lasted several drafts. Because of its multiple associations: Note that the verb has a mining use, which is basically how Browning uses it, but it also has a grotesque medical use which harks back to medieval times.
Browning wrote his poem fairly recently — even to him, the medical practice of trepanning would have seemed archaic and disturbing. Because of its mining AND its medical associations, trepan is a far better verb than swallow. This verb in its literal non metaphorical sense means to sharpen something with a strop.
A strop is a strip of leather for sharpening razors. In a story about rural characters who work with their hands, this verb is especially appropriate. This may count as an example of pathetic fallacyin which attributes of something else actually describe the character.
It is the character who is built up with layers of age and experience. Other various examples of verbs done well: Pick verbs whose metaphorical meanings match the symbol web of your story.
Some verbs are chosen because they are reminiscent of an earlier era: Play with your verb nouns. In English, a lot of words are used as both nouns and verbs, one usage leading to the other. Blat means to cry plaintively.
A lot of our English words are commonly used as verbs but not as nouns, or vice versa. Try making use of the less common part of speech. Be mindful of syllable count and phonology. Proulx writes harsh landscapes, so chooses single syllable verbs where possible, and if there are hard consonants like plosives and fricatives, all the better.
Blat, strop and crump etc. Proulx also uses words like these as character names, and links character to physical setting. You probably know it yourself, but have you found its slightly hidden features?
I recently wrote a short story about a butcher, and the symbol web was — of course — related to meat. So when using OneLook I made sure to make use of its filter functionality: Top of the list were: As you can see, the job of selecting words is still a very manual process, but this OneLook feature has been super useful to me on various occasions.
Sometimes it is, sometimes it leads me down a fascinating rabbit hole, but is that not the joy of writing? This feature is especially useful if you have a word on the tip of your tongue. Poets and poetic stylists take note: You can search the thesaurus by meter: The forward slash means stressed, the x unstressed.
For the more common definitions all you need to do is click once on a word and you get a pop-up window. Go forth and have fun with OneLook.OneLook Thesaurus and Reverse Dictionary 18,, words in dictionaries indexed — Today's word is daunted Reverse Dictionary Browse Dictionaries Help.
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