Tuesday, August 03, 2010

CRAFT- Word Choice
Capricious, Carnivorous, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Big words, lovely words! I am captivated by words that other author’s use that not only convey the meaning but have a special "texture" of their own. Words that you want to repeat and let roll around in your head for a week or two. Glazier...glazier...A glazier is a man/woman who replaces glass. Glazier. I had never heard the word before I had read Stieg Larsson's Girl Who Kicked a Hornet's Nest. Did the word affect the overall content of the paragraph--no. Stieg Larsson could have skipped over it. Used "repairman" (actually, it was probably a choice made by the translator now that I think about it...). None-the-less, I love the word. I wrote it down. But I didn't need to--it's stuck in my mind.

When I'm writing, those words can become a problem. I try to insert them in mundane places. I’ll think about jazzing a section up and then I’ll try a word that has been rattling in my brain. However, as much as I fantasize about creating a Tolstoy someday, I'm not that writer. I'm not Larsson either, nor am I J.K. Rowling, Mark Twain, or Alice Walker. Their distinctive writing style comes across as not only the "voice" of their characters, but their own particular writing “voice”. Sure, the tone of their work, the mood, the setting--these all effect their writing as well, but their particular choice of words match THEM.

A fellow writer recently shared the ever popular website in which you paste a sample of your writing to "analyze". The results compare your writing to world-renown writers. True to my original statement, I am not a Tolstoy. I’m sure I didn’t use enough Russian names, but Tolstoy’s word choice alone is so distinct. Try it out: http://iwl.me/

In Stephen King's memoir, On Writing, he comments on his own writing "voice". He is a man of simple words, clean, middle-American, no fluff-n-stuff. He explains that to use other’s words, anything other than his own “voice”, would be fake. It's not him. It's similar to when I shout, "OMG!"—my oldest son chides me, "Mom, don’t say that. It just doesn't fit you."

In essence, that wonderful word that I latch on to from another’s writing, whether fantabulous or not, may not be for me. They may be the words that match the voice of my characters, they may be words I use in parody, but for the body of my writing (middle grade and picture book) - they don't match. Which leads me with my next writing dilemma--What is MY voice? My writing style?

What is yours?

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