I have a new habit I'd like to share with you. Maybe it's lame, and maybe it's short-lived, but I'm loving it. It started with the nonfiction book FIRE LOVER, and now I'm doing it with WATER FOR ELEPHANTS. I've become a bona fide word thief. Here's my looting strategy:
- When reading a book, I keep a slip of blank paper tucked between the pages, and a pencil close by.
- When I come across an amazing word, one I would've ignored in a thesaurus, I jot it down on the slip of paper.
- I struggle with adding sound, so when I come across a great "sound" word, I add it to the list.
- If the word is used in an unusual context, I write down the entire phrase.
- When my slip of paper is full, or when I've finished my reading session, I transfer the words to a computer document. I've given them easy peasy file names, such as NOTES FOR FIRE LOVER.
- I type the words in alphabetical order, avoiding duplicates.
The pro of doing this is that I've unearthed amazing words that I'd normally ignore, and I've sprinkled them in my manuscript. As we all know, certain words evoke a specific mood, and if you're writing a scene with the same mood, you've got a supply of relevant words to work with. The con of doing this is slower reading time.
So tell me, are you a partner in crime? Do you steal words from amazing books, and if you do, what's your system?
(Funny side note...when I was searching for a photo for this post, I discovered there was a game called Word Thief. I had no idea! It sounds like fun, though.)