Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Writer's Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann – Book Review

To say that The Writer's Lexicon: Descriptions, Overused Words, and Taboos by Kathy Steinemann is a wealth of information is an understatement. This book is unbelievable in the amount of research, help, and information it provides.

The Writer's Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann
“Although you’ll encounter a few “rules” in this book, writing is not rules. It is a fusion of emotions, senses, and conflict. Whatever engages your readers should be the rule.”

Not only does Steinemann offer tonnes of alternatives for many clichés and overused words, she also gives detailed advice on show not tell, when to tell and not show, and tonnes of examples for everything she says.

“Instead of making your characters cry, show their emotions.”

The Writer's Lexicon is an encyclopedia of writing tips, word lists, and workarounds. A reference I plan to use every time I write and/or edit a book.

The book covers clichés and overused words like “nodded”, “said”, “shrug”, “shake the head”, “have”, “to be”, just to name a few. Steinemann digs deeper, helping writers handle the “I” in first person narration, cursing, redundancies in writing, punctuation, and last but certainly not least, how to write using the senses and environment.

“A groaning heart paints a different picture than a cartwheeling one. In each case, a single word tells how the protagonist is feeling.” (From examples on replacing “pounding”)

There’s even a lengthy section on how to avoid using the dreaded “very”. It’s the longest chapter in the book.

Steinemann offers dozens of story prompts along the way, whether you wish to use them as exercises to practice the lessons mentioned in the book or actually develop them into a full-length novel, is entirely up to you. But there is lots to keep you inspired.

Below is a list of "some" alternatives for "said" from the book - excuse the image, my phone camera and Kindle screen don't like each other much. :(

Alternatives for 'said' from The Writer's Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann

There are also exercises at the end of each section to allow you to practice what you’ve learnt.

 “Clear the Throat. Irritating in real life. Ditto in fiction.”

Although it took me a while to read, The Writer's Lexicon is a must-read for both seasoned and newbie writers. Even if you’ve memorised the dictionary, Steinemann’s examples will help improve your writing.

Reading Steinemann’s The Writer's Lexicon has also helped me as a reviewer and I hope as a blogger and writer in general.

“Repeat any word often enough, and it morphs into an irritation just as obnoxious as a saddle sore on a long ride.”

I’m thrilled to have received the opportunity to read this book, which has been and will continue to be a great help to me, and which I think I would never have found in my home country Egypt. I pretty much bookmarked every page in this book.

Steinemann’s writing style and occasional sarcasm is fun to read. Overall, the whole book was a pleasure to read, even if the tonnes of information was sometimes overwhelming.

“Remember who your protagonists or narrators are and choose creative words to match their personalities and backgrounds.”

My rating standard is 1 to 5 stars. But The Writer's Lexicon: Descriptions, Overused Words, and Taboos by Kathy Steinemann is a 10-star read.

Note: I received a free copy of The Writer's Lexicon: Descriptions, Overused Words, and Taboos from its author Kathy Steinemann in exchange for an honest review.


Check out my book review of Kathy Steinemann's new book in the Writer's Lexicon series: The Writer's Body Lexicon. This 500+-page volume is your go-to resource for all verbs, colors, and descriptions related to the body.

Add The Writer's Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann to your Goodreads' to-read list.

About the Author (via Goodreads):
Kathy Steinemann, Grandma Birdie to her grandkids, is an award-winning author who lives in the foothills on the Alberta side of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. She has loved words for as long as she can remember, especially when the words are frightening or futuristic or funny.
Her career has taken varying directions, including positions as editor of a small-town paper, computer-network administrator, and webmaster. She has also worked on projects in commercial art and cartooning.

Connect with Kathy Steinemann via Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, and her website.

The Writer's Lexicon Volume II is out now too! Find it on Amazon.

Need more writing help?

Check out these books (and reviews)

Writing about Magic by Rayne Hall 
Writing Fight Scenes by Rayne Hall
Write Your Book in a Flash (non-fiction) by Dan Janal
What Is a Cozy Mystery? Guest post by Kirsten Weiss
The Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi
The Writer's Body Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann

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