Accommodate and contain perplexed

When I’m looking for a word to substitute for another, I turn to a thesaurus. There are many kinds out there and my recent trip to the bookstore left me perplexed. The sales guy gave me the world’s longest elitist spiel about which is the “only” Thesaurus to use if you are a writer. (And shame on you for thinking of any other). The Roget’s thesaurus. I get that it’s super and laid out in the best way, and I adore Roget. However I was just looking to see if they had something smaller and themed similar to the Emotional Thesaurus. (apparently that offended him given the utter look of disgust on his face.) I looked at the shelf when he walked away (Actually we were interrupted by another customer and he just bailed) *eye roll.

That shelf had hundreds of dictionaries and Thesaurus’s sort of organized. I looked at a handful including a few Roget’s but in the end I walked away. Not because I didn’t need or want to buy one, but because I couldn’t decide which worked best for me and I didn’t want to carry a massive brick of a book all day. (The bookstore was my first stop.)

The internet has a handy-dandy one or two that I tend to use when I’m feeling too lazy to flip actual pages.

Substituting a word with a thesaurus is a great way to stop repetitive words. However not all words are created equal or actually mean what you think. I always check the meaning of a word before using it when I substitute.

For example.

Dale was told to accommodate the others so he moved over to accommodate them.

The thesaurus first choice under the meaning “To make room or lodging”.

Dale was told to accommodate the others so he moved over to contain them.

Sure the thesaurus’s first choice said it means the same thing but that clearly didn’t work, so what about the first choice for “make, become suitable for something”

Dale was told to accommodate the others so he moved over to adapt them.

Obviously, I can’t just plunk in whatever word is listed, I need to think about it. Read the list and find a good substitute.

Dale was told to accommodate the others so he moved over to welcome them.

There that worked. I often find myself repeating a word when I write, it’s okay it’s just the rough draft. When I go over it, I don’t like reading repetitive words, they need to go.

I thought I would try a little experiment. If I looked up a word like say, Perplexed, what would its substitute be? Then what would that words substitute be and would they be even close in meaning? I selected the first word on the list and then the first word for that word. Here is what it looked like.

Perplexed

Bewildered

Astonished

Amaze

Affect

Alter

Adjust

Accommodate

Contain

Accommodate

Contain

Eventually it started cycling between contain and accommodate. I thought that was interesting. And contain has noting to do with the word perplexed whatsoever. Nerdy I know.

My advice about using a thesaurus.
Check the words meaning so the sentence still makes sense. You don’t want to leave the reader perplexed. It’s time to go toast marshmallows over the combustion abyss.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Perplexed
Massive

Shhh… Don’t say a word.

There are times when conversation is too easy and unnecessary. I try to be careful to not to have everyone talking to themselves. That is if they are not prone to it by character flaw. The temptation to have someone muttering or whispering under their breath is hard to ignore. Not everybody does so refraining for some characters is a good idea.

Huddled beneath the desk within the small office, Joe could only listen to the violent chaos beyond the locked door. His laptop open before him the waiting cursor taunted him. Cow-ard, cow-ard it blinked.

He wiped the sweat beading at the back of his neck and scrunched his eyes tight.

BAM! Joe’s legs darted out as his back clenched. A whimper escaped his throat as the walls rattled from someone likely being thrown against it. The muffled sound of fist on flesh turned his stomach to acid. He reached a shaking hand to the keyboard, he had a job to do while everyone else fought for their lives.

As his fingers touched the smooth keys Joe relaxed. All his emotions were eclipsed by his compulsion to do his job. He focused on the screen, this is the only way he was of use, the only way he could be of use. The blinking cursor now urged, help-them, help-them.

Solo interactions are easier to write dialog free, (IMO) than are two people communicating sans dialogue.

Allen grabbed the wrench from the near empty toolbox. “I wish we had better weapons. This is handy though.” He glanced out the doorway then to Sasha.

Sasha finished tying up the man she just knocked out. “At least you have something.” More intruders were on their way approaching cautiously.

Allen waved his hand. “Get back Sash, they can’t see you.” Readjusting his grip, he shifted his feet for a better stance.
Sasha watched wide-eyed, lips pursed and fists clenched. The intruders had guns and they did not. The element of surprise was all they had.
“Three men, one gun on the man on my right.”
“Got it.” Sasha nodded.

I don’t hate that, but if they are under attack and trying to surprise the oncoming men, conversation even whispering can alert them.

Allen grabbed the wrench from the near empty toolbox. A useable weapon or projectile is always handy to have. He glanced out the doorway then to Sasha. She finished tying up the second man she just knocked out. More were on their way approaching cautiously.

Allen caught Sasha’s attention, gesturing for her to get back to the wall. He was the decoy, the obvious target, not her. Readjusting his grip, he shifted his feet for a better stance. Sasha watched wide-eyed, lips pursed and fists clenched. The intruders had guns and they did not. The element of surprise was all they had. He raised three fingers on his right hand and crooked one finger on his left hand toward his right. Sasha nodded; three men, one gun and the gun was on the far right.

There are scenarios when my characters go quiet. Whether its necessity or they don’t have anything to say, depends on what’s going on. For example a wordless conversation between two kids on opposite sides of the classroom. Or, an awkward car ride after a fight.

My advice about going conversation-less.
Take a peek at a long string of conversation, is it all necessary? Are the characters just stating the obvious? Or telling what you, as the writer, can show the reader in a more effective way? I found a long unnecessary conversation leads to a lot of; he said, she said taglines or surplus awkward action tags.

– Sheryl

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