Build A Large Vocabulary and Have Fun Doing It
you should always remember never to use.
- Wendell Johnson
A large vocabulary doesn't mean that you speak in long words or that you're impossible to understand. Rather, it's a matter of giving yourself the largest possible pool of words to dip into when you write.
As writers, words are our stock in trade. They can either sparkle on the page or bore us to tears. It's a matter of skill. But, it doesn't hurt to have as many words at your disposal as possible.
Building a large vocabulary can be fun. In fact, to be successful, it should be fun. No boring study guides or reading of the dictionary.
There is a better way.
Start by reading - a lot.
Yes, it's that simple. Read and read and read some more. And just when you think you've read enough, read again. Read what interests you. And explore things you aren't sure that interest you. Bust out of your comfort zone.
Check out science books like Parallel Worlds my Michio Kaku. Even if you don't like science, give it a shot. Whatever you do, pay attention to what you are reading.
Keep a dictionary nearby.
If you stumble across a word you don't understand or can't pronounce, look it up. Don't have a good dictionary handy? Find an online dictionary.
You can even find definitions for slang words on the internet. Be warned, though, that some of the definitions are disturbing or vulgar.
Practice using new words.
Don't show off, but try to work a new word or two into your conversations each week. Get comfortable with them. As you do, you will add them to your pool to draw from when you write.
Subscribe to a Word-A-Day email.
Dictionary.com and others offer this. You can get a new word and its definition sent to you each day. Some you will know, others will be new and an odd few will be useless. Still, it's a great and simple way to expand your vocabulary.
Unlike vocabulary words in elementary school, building your store of words can be fun and interesting. As a writer, odds are you already love to read. And there is no better way to learn new words.