I want to introduce a device I use for checking and editing word choice.
I use this because all it takes is one. All it takes is one word, for example, to reveal the balance in someone’s bank account, a word like ‘philanthropic’ or a word like ‘spent.’ Only one word, and in a way, this is great. It means that words have power. But it also means that words can over-power. They can under-achieve. They can blow your cover or disrupt a flow. So as I edit I ask myself, ‘Does this word do the lifting? Do I want it to grab this much attention? Does it reflect my in-group analysis or fit into my story-line equations? Should I instead be using a word that will create some disconnect, a word that creates a bump or helps with foreshadowing? Is it the best word to choose, does it segue smoothly into the next sentence, and by the way, how’s the fit—rhythmically?’
Every once in a while I stop and create a word chart, in part to remind myself that I have options, and also to see if should be updating my vocabulary. The headings may vary, and the words will not be the same, but the chart looks like this:
Now it’s your turn. Look at your material, choose some words and then expand each one across a row, choosing a synonym that fits that heading’s connotation or nuance. Remember that there is no ‘right’ answer. This is an exercise in impact recognition, and the best place to start is with the impact these words have on you, as in how you relate to certain words. Use the thesaurus to become help you see how many words we have available to us, but descriptive words from your memory will expand your option even more. For example, the Giant Rat was not found in the reference book I used.
We will revisit word choice using color, image, and panoramic tables, to help us see how one word can double to quadruple in function. But for now, try this.
As always, feel free to share your results with me.
From This Sentence is a Joke, by Catherine Berlin © 2017. All rights reserved.