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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Word Usage to Tighten Your Writing

July 14, 2022
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We all want to immerse our readers into our story as much as possible. To this end we need to ‘carry’ them through the experience with as little actual word usage as possible. An overly complicated or wordy sentence or paragraph, can take them out of the situation you have drawn them into. This can be accomplished by using descriptive words.

The definition of descriptive is: evocative, expressive, vivid, graphic, eloquent, colorful, explanatory, illustrative.

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This is quiet the list, I’m sure you agree, but we can expand on. A single word can encapsulate a mood, a feeling or a condition, which enables us to create without too much exposition or explanation.

In the revision process of any piece of work, tightening up the exposition ensures the story keeps pace, and large sections can be refined into their essential elements. In using words, such as clammy, for instance, our readers are instantly aware of our character’s physical state without losing the impact of the narrative. In other words -using these descriptive words keep our narrative sharp.

Careful word usage is a learned skill for many and delving into our dictionary and thesaurus on a regular basis enables us to use words to their best affect. For example, if we did not use clammy, we would need to describe cold but sweaty skin, light-headedness, damp beads of perspiration – a lot more words for the same condition and an overly descriptive sentence or paragraph can lose our reader’s attention. We certainly don’t want that.

Use of the thesaurus on our word document screen can assist us, but does have it’s limits. A good dictionary & thesaurus are a good investment for any writer. There are specific thesaurus as well. For example, I have an emotional thesaurus, which is a great tool.

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Take your time while revising any written piece to identify descriptive words that would sharpen it. They are a writer’s best friend, so use them often. The more you investigate words the more you will find that can sharpened your work.

What method do you use to tighten your writing?

Ask A Question Thursday

May 2, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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As we all know Shakespeare was adept at creating numerous words for his own works, which are even today in common usage (whether we known their origin or not!) So today’s question is: Do you make your own vocabulary words in your book or resort to the existing ones?

shakespeare_words_used_today

Here is a list of Shakespeare’s unique words:  

Bandit Henry VI, Part 2. 1594

Critic Love’s Labour Lost. 1598.

Dauntless Henry VI, Part 3. 1616.

Dwindle Henry IV, Part 1. 1598.

Elbow (as a verb) King Lear. 1608.

Green-Eyed (to describe jealousy) The Merchant of Venice. 1600.

Lackluster As You Like It. 1616.

Lonely Coriolanus. 1616.

Skim-milk Henry IV, Part 1. 1598.

Swagger Midsummer Night’s Dream. 1600.

Shakespeare must have loved the prefix un- because he created or gave new meaning to more than 300 words that begin with it. Here are just a few:

Unaware Venus & Adonis. 1593.

Uncomfortable Romeo & Juliet. 1599

Undress Taming of the Shrew. 1616.

Unearthly A Winter’s Tale. 1616

Unreal Macbeth. 1623

When we look at these words it is fascinating to think until the Bard created them they did not exist!

Please post your comments below.

Last week’s question: Where is your perfect writing retreat?

Weather it’s sitting somewhere with a legal pad, or sitting at my desk in front of my desktop computer, I need complete silence when I write.

Although I began my novel, NOLA Gals with an extended metaphor of the ocean while on a cruise, poolside with a tropical drink, I wrote most of it alone at my sister’s cottage. I moved back and forth between deck and kitchen table, piling up research books & handwriting historical data in ringed notebooks. Eventually it all came together on my laptop.

Made Up Words – Intriguing or Cringe Making..?

November 21, 2014
mandyevebarnett


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Made up words are a delight most of the time, some we use oblivious of their origins as they have been in common usage for centuries. However, others recently added to the dictionary have us shaking our heads. In the links below we have Banana Republic, Beatnik, Bedazzled, Catch-22, Debunk and more.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/nov/19/top-10-words-invented-writers-authorisms

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/Jun/17/authors-invented-words-used-every-day-cojones-meme-nerd

What ‘new’ words make you cringe?

Which words are your favorite from the lists above?

Have you ever made up a word for a novel?

I make up names most often, for example my novella is called The Rython Kingdom. The word Rython is a completely new word. I wanted a word that would intrigue and reflect the mythology/fantasy element of the narrative.

Examples –

Chick lit  – Books, usually featuring female characters, written by women on contemporary themes and issues that appeal more to women than to men.

Chillaxing – Blend of chilling and relaxing. Taking a break from stressful activities to rest or relax.

Blook – A blend of book and blog: a book written by a blogger

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Today’s prompt – why not share one of your made up words and why you created it OR make one up and its definition.

 

Snirtle – My Favorite Word to Date…

December 4, 2013
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Snirtle – definition: to snicker mockingly

I absolutely love this word and will have to find lots of occasions to use it. I think everyone needs this word in their personal lexicon. It is both a noun and a verb. It is a soft, suppressed laugh, a soft snortle (itself a reduced snort) or shortened snigger. Therefore, a snort is greater than a snortle, which is greater than a snirtle.

Snirtle was used by Robbie Burns in 1785  The Jolly Beggars : A Cantata

Wi’ ghastly e’e poor tweedle-dee
Upon his hunkers bended,
An’ pray’d for grace wi’ ruefu’ face,
An’ so the quarrel ended.
But tho’ his little heart did grieve
When round the tinkler prest her,
He feign’d to snirtle in his sleeve,
When thus the caird address’d her

Do you have favorite words? What are they?

While investigating the word, I came across these cute pictures at Deviant Art by Tazworth (Shauna) – aren’t they awesome?

Which is your favorite?

YomalynV_snirtle_by_TazworthGullienB_snirtle_by_Tazworth


Kyradriel_snirtle_by_TazworthLemynLyme_snirtle_by_Tazworth

Trunks_01_by_TazworthBunny_snirtle_by_Tazworth

Euphemism’s Abound…

November 19, 2013
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Euphemism – definition: the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague word or expression for a more harsh one

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We all know several euphemism’s, I am sure. It is why we use them that is interesting. It may be to lessen pain or distress to someone or to hide a fact from a younger person or child. We can openly say these phrases without emotional harm to the person we are saying them to or about. Is this sugar coating reality – yes it is – but they do prevent embarrassing or hurtful situations on both sides of the conversation.

Take the example of two older people discussing a friend who has died. They would not say ‘died’ rather use passed away.

In literature we can find euphemisms, such as :

George Orwell has the “The Squealer”, a character in his “Animal Farm”, using the word readjustment instead of reduction when announcing food rationing to suppress the complaints of other animals about hunger. Reduction means “cutting” food supply while readjustment implies changing the current amount of food.

“For the time being,” he explains, “it had been found necessary to make a readjustment of rations.”

In William Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra”. In Act 2 Scene 2, Agrippa says about Cleopatra:

“Royal wench!
She made great Caesar lay his sword to bed.
He plowed her, and she cropped.”

The word “plowed” refers to the act of sexual intercourse and the word “cropped” is a euphemism for becoming pregnant.

Here are some euphemism’s but by no means all of them:

  • Passed away or departed instead of died
  • Correctional facility instead of jail
  • Fell off the back of a truck instead of stolen
  • Ethnic cleansing instead of genocide
  • Collateral damage instead of accidental deaths
  • Letting someone go instead of firing someone
  • Put to sleep instead of euthanize
  • On the streets instead of homeless
  • Adult entertainment instead of pornography
  • Au natural instead of naked
  • Big-boned or portly instead of heavy or overweight
  • Use the rest room or powder your nose instead of go to the bathroom
  • Break wind instead of pass gas
  • Economical with the truth instead of liar
  • The birds and the bees instead of sex
  • Between jobs instead of unemployed
  • Vertically-challenged instead of short

Do you have a few you would like to share?

What is your favorite?

Have you used any in a story?

I found this super link – take a look:

http://englishcowpath.blogspot.ca/2011/06/euphemism-treadmill-replacing-r-word.html

euphemisms

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