Writing Tools: Roget's Thesaurus

Roget's International Thesaurus, 6th EditionThe thesaurus I abused in elementary school essays was the typical kind that's laid out like a dictionary. These days you can get that same type of helpful (advantageous, productive, useful) information online, so having a full-sized thesaurus in the house seemed nearly as archaic as the phone books that some pile of jerks keep dropping off on my doorstep years after I've cracked one open.

Then I came across a copy of Roget's.

The words in it are organized by category. Once you find "contentment" you'll see "complacency" and "satisfy" nearby, and maybe a synonym for one of those is closer to what you're looking for. Since the book keeps related words next to each other, it's perfect for getting really specific with word choice.

It's also great for looking up little bits of detail. There are five pages of food-related words to flip through before writing your next feast and 37 individual categories under "Intoxication, Alcoholic Drink" in need of a good bar scene. It lists instruments and types of fabric and whole column of ways to describe the color red.

I lean on my Roget's when the best word for something isn't coming to me, but I also flip through it when I'm feeling uncreative, uninspired, or just plain bored. A little bit of word nerding works wonders.

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