Tag Archives: think

Avoidance

During a fiction writing class, our professor gave us a sheet of words. It was titled, ‘Words all Writers Should Avoid Using.’

The other week, I was given another web page that was basically a full on rant about several different words that are used too often and should never be used. There were 5-10 words on the list.

My only problem with this is that each list is almost completely different. Some words are shared throughout– almost (hah), suddenly, nearly, really/very, like– considered weak and detrimental to the piece. Though I try to take each of these seriously and understand the reasoning for all of what I see, plenty of the words listed seem as a matter of opinion.

Of course, then you run into weak words versus strong words. There’s the old speech that Robin Williams gives in Dead Poets Society, proclaiming that the word ‘very’ is lazy, and encouraging them to use other words to describe it, because there are an abundant amount more than just the single word. To which, I will agree with this; there are words that are plain weak and water down the writing when used, but finding words that sound more beautiful in the stead of those is about more than just looking in the thesaurus. It’s about changing your language entirely.

The boulder was heavy in his palms.

Simple as it is, can be changed to…

The weight of the boulder was bearing down on him. 

In another example, I’ll take my sentence from earlier.

It’s almost completely different

To…

each is totally different, save for some choices…

Substituting words can only go so far, so it becomes a challenge to make the language and sound more diverse, intriguing, capturing.

Which reminds me of a challenge issued by Chuck Palahniuk, to depart with all “thought” verbs, not to show that a character is thinking. So no, “wonders,” “muses,” “considers,” etc. And to keep up with it for six months. Though I still find it a bit daft, I like the difficulty it presents. It forces you to think of other ways to go about showing what you want to say about what’s in the character’s head, or to forgo it.

We want our words, our content, to be as strong as possible. The more we challenge ourselves to be more fluid and diverse in what we have to say or how we say it, the sharper we find ourselves.

I wanted to show some of the sites that I mentioned. Though there are many more of them, here are a few examples:

From freelancewriting.com

This one from litreactor.com 

And this from tameri.com

Weak words, those that are vague and provide little to nothing about what you mean or are referring to, should, by all means, be cast out at any and every opportunity. When faced with “things,” “something,” and “stuff,” try to be precise. Being specific is the difference between strong language and a flaky one. It is also, as one of those sites suggested, a way to show confidence in your writing.

-The Novice Wordsmith

Prompt: Tea Time

Tea and reflection have gone together for as long as I can remember. You sip something herbal or green, or maybe oolong, while you ponder the ways of the world. It is a way to get you to pause and enjoy something warm and flowery, or strong and uplifting.

Whether you’re feeling creatively drained or need to figure out where to go next with a character, or just want a new avenue to explore, setting someone down with a mug of tea, wherever it may be, is a surefire way to provide a change of pace.

From fast to slow, the teacup and the hero connect like old friends, if the tea is taken slowly. Taken more quickly, it can mean restlessness or irritation.

Give your hero time to think, delve into their thoughts and the inner workings of their mind and let them wonder and wander. Is there progress that comes of this, or is it simply absent thought that winds and winds and winds?

Is it a kind of tea that they love, or is it something new, from a friend or family member or lover? Is it a first experience for them, and do they hate the taste of tea, or love it?

In the end, they can find an answer in the leaves, or ignore them completely. What will your hero do?

-The Novice Wordsmith