Peg366's Blog

Writer’s Digest Article. Four Tips.

Posted on: October 31, 2009

2006_0627Image0065A recent blog entry and comments by Natalie Murphy made this article catch my eye.
4 Tips for Choosing the Right Word

February 11, 2008 The date it originally was written.

How do you choose the right word for the right situation? The most powerful words tend to be the shortest and, not coincidentally, the ones most basic to the English language. A long-time editor gives more advice about choosing the right word.

Here are a few thoughts on choosing the right word from “English Through the Ages,” a reference book by William Brohaugh:

  1. Keep word and phrase choice appropriate to the context. For example, streetwise characters in a novel wouldn’t likely use technical jargon or acronyms. Nor would the writer of a novel about streetwise characters. One lesson here is to let word choice in the narrative conform at a certain level to the word choice of the people populating the narrative. For instance, formal narration lacking contractions wouldn’t serve a story about rural folk, nor would colloquial narration serve a story about high society — even if the characters themselves spoke completely in context.
  2. Listen for what sounds right. I’m thinking of the TV mini-series Merlin, in which a medieval character states, “My mind is made up.” I don’t have reference to when the idiom “make up your mind” was first used, but I suspect it wasn’t in use in Arthurian times, and even if it was, it sounds modern. Better the character have said something that sounded a bit archaic, like “My mind is firm.”
  3. The precise word isn’t necessarily the right word. Susurration might be more precise than murmur in a given passage, but if the word is confusing or (see above) at odds with the context or the atmosphere of the story, a less-precise word might actually be the better choice. This is true only if “less-precise” isn’t synonymous with “wrong.” A less-precise word can still be the right word.
  4. The most powerful words tend to be the shortest and, not coincidentally, the ones most basic to the English language. Said Sir Winston Churchill, “Broadly speaking, the short words are best, and the old words best of all.” Words like kin, thanks and small, for instance, are deeply rooted in Old English before A.D. 1000, while words like relatives (from the 1600s), gratitude (in use by 1450) and tiny (from the 1500s) are from succeeding generations. But again, it’s best to choose the word that communicates your point while evoking or echoing the tone of your manuscript, and if it’s the longer word, so be it.


Advertisements

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

peg366


I am an aspiring picturebook writer with some magazine credits just no picture book contract yet. I know it is coming and I am more than willing to work for it.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 10 other followers

July 2009

October 2009
M T W T F S S
« Sep   Nov »
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Twitter.com/peg366

My Favorites:

I love the children's movies Wizard of Oz and the Neverending Story. Both movies make me feel the lesson that hope is alive and well. After seeing UP this past week, it just might have a chance at being added to this list.

I love the cool colors of blues and purples.Those colors are peaceful for me.

I love The Velveteen Rabbit. Even as an adult, I still feel the urge to cry when he becomes real. I know, silly, but a good book can make me laugh and cry as it takes me on a magical journey.

Authors and Illustrators:

Authors, Author/Illustrator, Illustrators that I know and/or Like.

Catergories:

C= Children

MG= Mid Grade

T= Teen

YA= Young Adult

A= Adult

Names:

Bonnie Adamson *

Kathi Appelt *

Tedd Arnold

Avi

Natalie Babbit

Molly Bang

Bonnie Becker

Jan and Stan Berenstain

Judy Blume

Tracey M. Cox

Linda Crotta Brennan *

Jan Brett

Janie Bynum *

Eric Carle

Pam Calvert

Nancy Carlson

Beverly Cleary

Kevin Scott Collier

Sharon Creech

Doreen Cronnin

Tomie dePaulo

Kate DiCamillo

Kathleen Duey *

Dotti Enderle

Jan Fields *

Denise Fleming

Mem Fox

Kelley Milner Hall

Amy Heist

Kevin Henkes

Ellen Jackson *

Jeff Kinney

Jackie French Koller

Ursula K. LeGuin

Leo Lionni

Lois Lowry

Mercer Mayer

Robert Munsch

Laura Numeroff

Linda Sue Parks

Dav Pilkey

Patricia Polacco

Peggy Rathmann

Bethany Roberts

David Shannon

Aaron Shepard

Donna J. Shepherd *

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Jerry Spinelli

Diane Stanley

Chris Van Allsburg

Rick Walton *

Lisa Wheeler

Mo Willems

Karma Wilson *

Audrey Woods

Jane Yolen *

Favorite Websites:

http://www.institutechildrenslit.net/

http://www.cbiclubhouse.com/

http://www.scbwi.org/

http://www.underdown.org/

http://www.verlakay.com/

http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com

Favorite Blogs:

• ShelfTalker: A Children’s Bookseller’s Blog
• Alice’s CWIM Blog
• A Fuse #8 Production
• Cynsations
• Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent
• Editorial Anonymous
• Miss Snark’s First Victim
• Writing for children and teens

Favorite Quotes.

RSS Facebook.Com

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
%d bloggers like this: