Words, words, words!

November 25, 2020

I love words. We couldn’t get along without them, of course, and most people don’t think anything special about words. As a reader and writer, however, I think words can be magical. I read once that every story has been told, but it hasn’t been told the way YOU would write it. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know, especially when I think about speculative fiction, which sure seems new to me.

I subscribed to the word-a-day emails from dictionary.com recently. About 40-50% of the words they send are new to me. When I received the word-of-the-day “irenic” on November 17, it made me laugh. Are the “word-senders” keeping up with current events? Most likely everyone is aware of our recent presidential election in the States and everything that has happened before and since. Some of the words-of-the-day seem fitting. Irenic means to promote peace or reconciliation. We sure need that now!

Check out these other words:

October 31 – eldritch – eerie, weird, spooky

November 1 (2 days before election) – agonist: a person who is torn by inner conflict.

November 3 (election day) – publicspirited: having or showing an unselfish interest in the public welfare.

November 4 – tarriance: delay.

November 5 – perfervid: very fervent, extremely ardent, impassioned.

November 6 – garboil: confusion.

November 7 (the day the election was called) – ex libris: bookplate.

I was surprised to see this word; it has nothing to do with current events.

Other words for November

 duplicitous: marked or characterized by deceitfulness.

 fidelity: loyalty.

 volteface: reversal of opinion or policy.

 willyard: obstinate, willful.

One of my favorites this month, not because of the meaning but because of the way it looks and sounds, is zeitgeber. The definition is an environmental cue, such as the length of daylight or the degree of temperature that helps to regulate the cycles of an organism’s biological clock.

My long-time favorite word is onomatopoeia, pronounced on-uh-mat-uh–pee–uh. I can never spell it correctly, but I think it’s fun to look at with all the vowels. It means a word that imitates the natural sounds of a thing, like buzz, hiss, cuckoo.

Do you have a favorite word?

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Finding the exact precise right words

October 29, 2019

Sometimes I search for just the right word. I’ll be writing, words flowing freely, and then I stop. The word I want to use eludes me. I know there’s a word that denotes the exact feeling or movement or person I’m trying to describe but I can’t think of it. I put down a similar word and use the thesaurus. Back and forth – this word, that word, another word. Most times, I do find the perfect word. If it remains elusive after 5 or 10 minutes of searching, I leave a blank space in the manuscript, confident the word will come to me later. I don’t want to disrupt my writing flow.

edictionary

When I’m writing a description and the words won’t come, I use other means.

I was trying to describe a playground. I could see in my mind’s eye the equipment and the kids but I couldn’t get the description right. So, I said aloud – just me and my cat in the room – “Jenny and Mike walk outside and see kids on the swings, the teeter-totter, monkey bars and slide. Little boys are running around. The playground pulses with energy and joy.”

This is what I wrote: Jenny laughed as they walked out to the playground. Kids clambered on the jungle gym while smaller kids stood in line for the slide. One little girl slid down squealing, pigtails flying. A little boy stood on top of a green plastic pipe tunnel; as she watched, an adult rushed over to cajole him down. He waved his arms, obviously unwilling to abandon his perch. The swings were full, and kids raced around everywhere. A group of girls, age 6 or 7, stood to one side talking animatedly.

Jenny laughed louder as she felt the joy and energy emanating from the kids. Despite the reality that all these children needed a home – a fact that saddened Jenny momentarily – this was a happy place. She wanted to take them all home. How could you ever choose when they all needed parents?

Another tip is to say aloud: “What I’m trying to say is…” And then you describe it aloud. You can also draw the scene and then describe your drawing. I’ve done that when building a town.

“What I’m trying to say is…”

For emotions, I’ve heard people use an emotion thesaurus. Sounds good to me although I don’t have one of those books yet.

I’m sure there are other books and tips to find the right word. What helps you find the elusive word or description?

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