May Writing Retreat Recap

Good Morning OWLS!! The Lake Summerset Writing Retreat was a HUGE success. Writing Gals welcomed OWLS to their lodge for a day of writing inspired by the most amazing views of the lake, lunch outside in one of the many sunny spots and finishing up with a jam-packed OWLS meeting. All told, it was a day much enjoyed by all. Thank you Writing Gals!!

The topic on the agenda for the monthly meeting was, Resources & References, Benefits, Uses and Cautions.

Dawn and Sarah brought several of their favorite thesauruses for us to peruse and gander at. Books like, the Flip Dictionary by Barbara Ann Kipfer, Roget’s Thesaurus on Phrases by Barbara Ann Kipfer, Arms and Armor in Antiquity and the Middle Ages by Charles Boutell, The Bibliophile’s Dictionary by Miles Westley, A Concise Dictionary on First Names by Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges, the Dictionary of Superstitions by David Pickering, the Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, the Positive Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi and finally, the Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.

In K.M. Weiland’s article, Is the Thesaurus Your Friend?, “writers are surprisingly divided over the value of a thesaurus. Some consider it their secret weapon; others regard it as a crutch.” Stephen King says, “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule. ”

Still, we have to wonder, is this really true? Can a thesaurus be used without it becoming a crutch or a way to plug large, important sounding words into our writing with the intent of impressing an agent or publisher? Ms. Weiland goes on to say, yes, it is possible, but one needs to be cautious of using the correct word. Just because a thesaurus says it is a synonym does not mean it’s the right word for your WIP.

Daily Writing Tips’ article, Hint to Writers: Use the Thesaurus With Caution mirrored the same cautions as Ms. Weiland’s article, advising writers to become more comfortable with the vocabulary they are most familiar with and to use a thesaurus sparingly if at all.’s article, Historical Fiction for Writers by Catherine Lundoff showed us ways to find information while researching. Ms. Lundoff says, “Historical resources can be broken down into two basic categories, primary sources which are contemporary records of the time period that you are researching; and secondary sources which are written after that time period.”

Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. Primary sources have the advantage of being an immediate source that clearly reflects the mood, dialect, and observations of that time period. However, the disadvantage is that the person recording the information is often limited to their own perspective with no real understanding of the big picture. Secondary sources offer a wider range of information, but often in a more contemporary language and thought pattern without the perspective of those who are experiencing it.

With all the talk about thesauruses, the website, offers multiple resources. The Descriptive Thesaurus Collection offers a vast assortment of possible scenarios to explore, items such as the Physical Feature Thesaurus, Symbolism and Motif Thesaurus, or Emotional Wounds Thesaurus offer writers answers to any question they can think of.

All in all, our minds have been vastly expanded on the subject of thesauruses and research. The world is our oyster. At least the research world is. We look forward to seeing everyone for the June 25th meeting at Meg’s Daily Grind in Rockford. Details will be forthcoming. Have a safe and fun-filled Memorial Day weekend!

Write somethin'!