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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It’s a Word’s World

When it comes to writing, words are it. Obviously. But as writers we don’t want to get caught using clichéd phrases and/or descriptive words. And honestly, we want to use words in such a way that others may just come to revel in them as we do. (Well, ok, at least I want to do that.)

We’re not talking Overkill, but Zest—

Instead of writing about your green-eyed female character in such a way that she’s practically identical to the rest of the world’s female characters (who just happen to have full lips, high cheekbones, a slender/straight nose, and green, almond-shaped eyes in common), grab our attention and make your character stand out! Go for specifics with the color, shape, size, lid-type, etc.
Hone in on those descriptive skills! Are her eyes really just plain green, which honestly could range from the cliché emerald to the (also cliché) sea green—or are they chartreuse? When I read chartreuse, I have a clear picture in my mind of exactly the shade of green the author is talking about.

Use clever, identifiable imagery! Are they like the spring leaves outside her window, or the prickly bunch of holly near her front door? (Mind you, I honestly have no idea what holly is. I wanted to say mistletoe…and then I realized that I dunno what that looks like, either. Good thing I’m not writing a book about plants.)

The point is, we’re writers. We can do WAY better than green.

Wrangle the nerve of Nuance—

Choosing just the right word can be difficult, but the work involved to get it is SO worth it. Not only will you have the immense satisfaction that it’s the perfect fit, but others will note the care you took to wrangle it.

When it comes to nuance, a thesaurus is a trusty, insightful friend. I usually use Webster’s online version because I’ve found that it’s free, quick, easy, and best of all, it generates a LOT of words. 

In a poem I wrote called Blue (*sidenote* so excited about sending it out to Wicked Alice!!!), I had the hardest time coming up with a word that would describe dark yellow/tan/sandy rhyolite (a type of stone you find on the beach)…and so I put in ‘tan’ in the thesaurus…

and I tinkered around with my options, making a list of suitable words and plugging each on it in again to get another word or two until I finished the list. I quickly realized that there was no one word that captured what I saw…but two words might. 

I settled for dusky ochre rhyolite. Pretty good compared to tan or sandy rhyolite, right? I should right an ode to the thesaurus…

Seek out fellow crafters—

Reading is the absolute best way to find out how to capture and tame a word enough to get it to color your prose, poetry, or lyrics in exactly the right shade. 

If you read lots, you’ll find that the ideas you thought were original—like having a character with almond-shaped green eyes, which is rare in the real world—aren’t quite as savvy on the uptake as Sherlock Holmes.

But the reading you do need not (and shouldn’t, honestly ^_^’) be limited to novels/non-fiction books. Read poetry, listen to Utada Hikaru (Japanese songs), Coldplay, Taylor Swift…delve into the art and love of words…and with time you’ll find that reaching ones with accuracy and pizazz will come more easily.

Also, consider these blogs:
                This is an INCREDIBLE blog sharing the wealth of knowledge gained by true wordsmiths. You don’t want to miss this if you are serious about becoming a better word-crafter.

                I like this site because it gives some good details about male body types specifically…and has a lot of good details on clichés in describing eye color and such. 

Go. See. the world of words :)

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