Friday, April 30, 2010

Words, words, words

Happy Friday all :)

Today's topic is words. Round ones, curt ones, leisurely ones, quick ones.

Let's face it, words are the tools in our craft toolbox. As writers and artists, it's imperative we choose our words (or paint brushes, or camera lenses, etc.) carefully. Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."

This is why a thesaurus is a must. And my new one just arrived yesterday! Yay! I have a pocket one that I keep in my purse, but an extensive volume is so much better.

Consider the following examples:

She walked across the room.
* She meandered across the room.
* She trudged her way across the room.
* She stormed across the room.

While a basic example, the 3 sentences with asterisks (*) give a better description of the character than "walked" which is generic. The word choice offers deeper insight into the character, thereby connecting with your reader more.

Now consider phrases we can shorten by choosing alternate words:

He talked softly.
* He whispered.
* He muttered.
* He murmured.

FYI - you should always try to find a more descriptive verb than a verb + adverb. Using a verb + adverb (in this case, "talked softly") weakens your sentence.

Use descriptive terms when you can. Instead of saying "he got wet in the rain" you can use words like immerse, drench, soak, plunge, douse, etc. Always keep a balance; you don't want your writing to sound like you're putting on airs or showing off your latest dictionary. But use strong terms where you can.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!


Kev Sparrow said...

These are really helpful ideas in forming sentences, using more descriptive language than what you suggest. Always nice to keep in mind whilst writing stories. Thanks for the ideas.

The Writers Canvas said...

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for commenting on the blog! I always have to remind myself to keep trying new words, sharper ones, which will make the story better. Figured it was worth a blog post.

Many thanks and keep checking back :)