Inigo Montoya will Show You the Way
The burden of a writer is to find new ways to say the same old thing. Which can be quite a challenge, but lucky for us, there is a lovely little thing called a thesaurus. Words, words, words. Take your pick and mix it up.
But be warned, my friends, because as a very wise man once said, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Say you want to find another word for “wear.” I don’t know why, you just do. So you grab your trusty thesaurus. Here are some of the synonyms you’ll get:
Those words have denotations that are very, very different from one another, don’t they? So you could drastically change the context of your sentence, depending what word you select.
And this is why a little care is needed. Make sure you know what a words means before you use it. Otherwise, you come off looking like an idiot. People will point and laugh, and it’ll be a whole big thing.
Another way you can screw up your wording is with a malaprop. Now if you’re writing a comedy, embrace malaprops. But if you’re not…see above paragraph. A malapropism is mixing up a word with a similar sounding word that has a completely different meaning.
In the spirit of honesty, I’ve been known to use a malaprop or two. The one that sticks out in my head is when I used “clamour” instead of “clamber.” Instead of my character climbing over something, he made a lot of noise at it. People pointed and laughed, and it was a whole big thing.
Moral of the story? Embrace your dictionary just as tightly as your thesaurus. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Proof read. Proof read. Proof read.