Thursday, August 16, 2007

Draw Attention to the Words and Readers Squirm

Words that are not ordinary sound academish and snobby.

When writers spend too much attention to the words, they appear erudite and elitist; they make most readers uncomfortable and uneasy.

The best writers compose simply and plainly. They prefer the common word to the little known one; they choose the obvious to the obscure. In most cases this is the Anglo-Saxon derived word rather than the Latin originated word.

When writing, the writer must always keep in mind the intended reader. For the general populace that means simplicity, the common rather than the exceptional, the familiar rather than the unusual, the well-know rather than the strange. Of course this not mean the trite of hackneyed. It means a well-turned phrase, an appealing metaphor or simile.

This brings us to the concrete rather than the abstract; the exact rather than the approximate; the specific rather than the academic; the common sense rather than goobledygook. Simplicity reigns; complexity ‘sucks’.

What does all this mean? It means that the old adage “KISS” should be kept in mind at all times when writing. Keeping the choice of words simple and uncomplicated will keep writing powerful and potent. Good writing should not require the reader to run to the dictionary to find out what the writer meant.

Words that are not ordinary sound academish and snobby. They draw attention the words and make the reader squirm and uneasy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Concrete Words and Meaning

Concrete words of themselves are static and almost valueless; it is the connotations associated with words that give them meaning and significance. It is words’ connotations that the writer must be aware of and thus choose them carefully to pass on accurately and logically the import and gist of the writer’s notion.

Therefore, it is the implied meaning of the concrete word that must be considered and evaluate as the writer expresses the message to be delivered. In fiction, this can be subtle and clever as it impinges on the reader’s feelings and emotions. This is not to say that these choices are not important in non-fiction writing as well.

It is this intrusion and effect on the reader’s sentiments that give the writer’s ideas value and effect. Since each individual has a different connotation for words, the writer must choose them with care and circumspection so that the reader and the writer’s connotation have something in common.

Thus the concrete words must be chosen to express connotation as well as denotation. Denotation is, of course, the static sense of the word while connotation is concerned with all the peripheral meanings that only come by individual’s experiences and practices with the word.

It is the nuances of the words that give true meaning and sense to what the writer has written although this exchange can never be completely accurate as no two individual’s connotation of words is the same.

Great writers have this innate ability to choose words, particularly concrete words, that connect with the reader’s emotions. Of course, practice and thought can be developed.