Tools for Writing: A Mini-Thesaurus

Why keeping a cheat sheet of common words will help your writing.

When I posted a blog on:  The Writing Process: Part 7 – Editing for Grammar & Style, I mentioned using a thesaurus. I also posted a section about minimizing your characters’ common gestures, where I said,

An advance reader of mine counted the instances where my character, Davian, crossed his arms. The tally: once every three pages in a 400 page manuscript. Your characters may not cross their arms as much as Davian, but they probably smile, frown, and laugh once every page. Change it up.

I discovered a few years ago that I was continuously looking up the same words in my thesaurus, and most of them dealt with my characters’ gestures, movements, and facial expressions.  I created a list of the words I needed synonymns for the most and keep it near when I’m editing. I figured I would share it here. If you know of more words to add, please feel free to add them in the comments section. Also, you will notice that I have a Products of Fire section. My writing includes warfare and explosions so I found that necessary. You might not need that section, but feel free to create sections that fit your stories.

Frown: Glower, Glare, Scowl, Grimace, Mope, Sulk
Glare: Glower, Scowl, Frown
Smile: Grin, Beam, Simper (smug), Smirk, Look amused, Look delighted
Sigh: Moan, Groan, Exhale, Breathe, Pant, Whisper, Huff
Eyed: Look at, Gaze at, Stare at, Contemplate, Study, Survey, View, Inspect, Scrutinize, Scan, Glance at, Regard, Behold, Eyeball, Ogle, Lear, Make eyes at, Give the eye to
Walk: Stroll, Saunter, Amble, Plod, Trudge, Hike, Tramp, Trek, March, Stride, Step out, Pace, Hike, Toddle
Run: Rush, Hasten, Hurry, Dash, Sprint, Blot, Dart, Gallop, Scurry, Scamper, Scramble, Scoot, Jog, Lope, Scuttle
Yell: Shout, Cry out, Howl, Scream, Shriek, Screech, Squeal, Roar, Bawl, Whoop, Holler, Bellow
Products of fire: Ash, Brand, Charcoal, Cinder, Cinders, Fumes, Smoke, Soot, Spark, Stub
People: Folks, Humans, Commoners, Individuals, Societies, Crowd, Folk, Humanity, Inhabitants, Masses, Mortals, Persons, Plebeians, Rabble, Tribe, Public, Men and women, Adults

If you have any other words to add, please be sure to let everyone know in the comments!

Fantasy novelist M. B. Weston is the author of The Elysian Chronicles, a fantasy series about guardian angel warfare and treason. Weston speaks to children, teens, and adults about writing and the process of getting published. For more information on M. B. Weston, visit Find out more about The Elysian Chronicles at

About M. B. Weston

M. B. Weston is an award-winning fantasy, pulp, young adult, steampunk, and paranormal author. Her attention to procedure and detail gives her works an authentic gritty, military feel that takes an adventure tale to the level of a true page-turner. Weston’s writing attracts both fantasy and non-fantasy readers, and her audience ranges from upper-elementary students to adults. A gifted orator, Weston has been invited as a guest speaker to numerous writing and science fiction/fantasy panels at conventions across the US, including DragonCon, BabelCon, NecronomiCon, and Alabama Phoenix Festival. She has served on panels with such authors as Sherrilyn Kenyon, J. F. Lewis, Todd McCaffrey, and Jonathan Maberry. Weston has spoken to thousands of students and adults about the craft of writing and has been invited as the keynote speaker at youth camps and at several schools throughout the US.
This entry was posted in Editing Your Work, The World of Writing, Voice, Technique, & Style and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Tools for Writing: A Mini-Thesaurus

  1. Pingback: Top Picks Thursday 08-16-2012 « The Author Chronicles

  2. First off I want to say great blog! I had a quick
    question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing.
    I’ve had a hard time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there. I do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Kudos!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s