How to use a thesaurus to actually improve your writing

Looking up big, fancy words won't make your writing better. But a thesaurus can help – if you use it like this.

  • Using a thesaurus to find larger or more impressive words is misguided, says Martin Amis. Instead, use a thesaurus to find words with the perfect rhythm for your sentence.
  • For example, the Nabokov novel "Invitation to a Beheading" was originally called – not for very long – "Invitation to an Execution". Nabokov nixed the repetitive suffix.
  • A dictionary is also a writer's best friend; looking up words has a rejuvenating effect on your mind, says Amis. "When you look up a word in the dictionary you own it in a way you didn't before. You know what it comes from and you know its exact meaning."
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Margaret Atwood is writing a sequel to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

The renowned author plans to publish a follow-up to the 1985 bestseller in September 2019.

HULU
  • The sequel will take place 15 years after the end of the first book.
  • The Handmaid's Tale has sold more than 8 million copies in English since it was first published in 1985.
  • Atwood said she was inspired to write a follow-up, in part, by the "world we've been living in."
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Why American history lives between the cracks

The stories we tell define history. So who gets the mic in America?

  • History is written by lions. But it's also recorded by lambs.
  • In order to understand American history, we need to look at the events of the past as more prismatic than the narrative given to us in high school textbooks.
  • Including different voices can paint a more full and vibrant portrait of America. Which is why more walks of American life can and should be storytellers.
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F. Scott Fitzgerald on Writing ‘The Great Gatsby’

Here's what F. Scott Fitzgerald thought about his classic American novel "The Great Gatsby."

While we can’t ask F. Scott Fitzgerald what he thinks about the latest adaptations of his work, we can know what he thought about a novel he considered to be his “imaginary eldest brother,” courtesy of excerpts from his letters collected in F. Scott Fitzgerald On Writing, edited by Larry W. Phillipps.  “From the start Fitzgerald wanted The Great Gatsby to be a ‘consciously artistic achievement,’ something ‘beautiful and simple and intricately patterned,’” according to the book’s forward, written by Charles Scribner III. (Every writer should own a copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald On Writing; better yet, write out the entire novel of The Great Gatsby, like Hunter S. Thompson did to learn what beautiful writing felt like. Then, get Trimalchio, an early version, to read all the fat Fitzgerald cut.)

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