Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Word Choices Matter

You’ll never make your mark as a writer unless you develop a respect for words and a curiosity about their shades of meaning that is almost obsessive. The English language is rich in strong and supple words. Take the time to root around and find the ones you want. --William Zinsser

Imagine a stately grand tree. What does your mind conjure after those directions?

Photo courtesy of Al Griffin Photography
Is your tree like mine? A Giant Sequoia towering hundreds of feet into the air? Or is yours something closer to this earth, a tall, full evergreen dusted with snow?

The problem is a word like “tree,” while concrete, is not specific. It fails to communicate precisely what I had in mind.

So writers must become students. They are life-long learners, gathering information and vocabulary that will deliver the hues and harmonies, subtleties, shades, shocks, and sorrows, joys and jubilations along the continuum of the human experience.

Reading Challenge:

Read On Writing Well, William Zinsser’s advice about writing well.

Writing Challenge:

Select five more precise words for the following list of words. For example, for the verb walk, you would list stroll, amble, strut, meander, and stagger.

Here is your list: fat, laugh, tree, flower, reptile, and dessert.

Connye Griffin is My Writing and Editing Coach. Read more of Connye's words on Our Eyes Upon Missouri.