Writers, Be Specific in Word Choice

A Short Exercise

By Annette Rey

Make your sentences more interesting by choosing defining words. Detail particular traits. Specificity is better than vagueness.

Compare:

The car careened down the mountain pass.

The battered Volvo careened down the rocky mountain pass.

Compare:

The house was surrounded by woods.

Becky’s cozy, vine-covered cottage, nestled among old-growth firs, welcomed the returning airman.

Compare:

Dogs chased the rabbit to ground.

The cottontail narrowly eluded a pack of howling beagles by dashing into her burrow.

Or:

Three rowdy beagles relentlessly pursued a zig-zagging cottontail and lost her in the thick underbrush.

Replace a general word with an unambiguous one.

Examples:

Generic term                 Explicit replacement

restaurant                     Italian eatery, greasy-spoon diner

dog                                 blue-eyed Malamute, formidable Doberman

building                         glass skyscraper, L-shaped ranch house, Celtic castle

library                          personal leather-bound collection, tattered paperbacks

detective                       veteran sergeant, cynical sleuth

You can see the benefit of replacing bland words with descriptive terms that beef up your sentences and put your readers in the mood you want to immerse them.

Now, you try a few words. Visualize the noun. Make those simple nouns more complex, reflect the characteristics of the item in question.

hairstyle

bedding

river

suit

subdivision

gun

airplane

jewelry box

bouquet

The next time you sit down to write, remind yourself to elaborate on the general words you use in a sentence. Your readers will be more entertained and satisfied with your writing style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Dozen Reasons Why Writers Need to “Carry That Camera!”

The Camera, A Compulsory Tool

By Annette Rey

Do you need to add dimension to your writing? Is your writing lacking color? Do you feel it needs enrichment? Is your brain a little blank when you are searching for the right word to describe something? Do you have copyright fears about using internet pictures?

Can such a simple solution as carrying (and using) a camera really be the answer to resolve some of your concerns? Follow through on the dozen reasons below. You won’t be sorry you did.

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Writers Seek

100_7527A Trip to the Telephone Museum

By Annette Rey

It shouldn’t get boring to hear, “There is no such thing as writer’s block.” That should be good news to those of you who find it difficult to populate your screen with words.

One of the techniques to fill that screen is to change your physical environment and seek out resources with subject matter about which to write. The subject does not have to be an unusual one, but when you find one, pounce!

A trip to the Telephone Museum filled that bill.

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Four Self-editing Tips

Suggested Steps to Improve Your Work

By Annette Rey

Sometimes writing flows and we think we are inspired. We think we are creating a good piece. And it may be very good. But all writing needs to be reviewed for errors and improvements.

The following four basic steps will help you to self-edit and will tighten up your creation.

One:  Go back to your work a day later to get a fresh perspective. Your subconscious mind has been working and will have improvements in store.

may-16-125Two:  Read your work aloud. Is your voice pausing in places? Perhaps you need to insert a comma. As you read, are you not pausing at a comma point? Review, and the comma may need to be removed. Reading aloud helps you sound for flow, but you should be familiar with punctuation rules. Reading aloud is also necessary in areas of dialogue to identify whether the exchange between characters sounds believable.

Three: Cut unnecessary words from your work. Some writers find this a difficult task as our words are our babies. As you attempt to cut, rearranging words for clarity seems to automatically occur.

Compare:

Original sentence: There are many unnecessary words used in sentences.

Edited sentence:   Many unnecessary words are often used in sentences.

Above is an attempt to shorten a sentence by cutting out the unnecessary words there are. The result is a better sentence of the same length. If you have constructed a good sentence, length is not important as long as the meaning is clear for your reader to understand.

Four: Double-check your work with reference manuals on spelling, grammar, and punctuation. We fall into comfortable habits and speak imprecisely which often translates to errors in our writing.

Please share with me some of the techniques you use to correct your work.

 

 

Affect. Effect. Which to Choose?

Affect/verb – Effect/noun.

By Annette Rey

Lots of books will tell you everything you don’t want to know about these words. My desire is not to denigrate the English language, or the authors of those helpful books, but to make this article a short explanation of which of these words to use and when.

The following mental exercise should implant in your brain. Use this exercise and the next time you are creating a sentence that uses affect or effect, you will not pause as to which word is the correct one to use.

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Writer’s Encouragement

Believe. Work. Believe.

By Annette Rey

I believe there is no such thing as writer’s block. Your thoughts can drive you forward or be self-limiting. Whatever you tell yourself, you believe. Think a moment about that statement.

Believing is mental action that energizes, it is a power unto itself. It is the first step to taking physical action. Believe there are no limits. Open your mind.

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Grammar Matters

By Annette Rey

A myriad of grammar guides exist and I have half a dozen of them. The one I find most extensive and simply written is Who’s (oops) Whose Grammar Book Is This Anyway? By C. Edward Good. This book was originally published as A Grammar Book for You and I (oops! Me). This is my go-to resource for sentence construction.

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