I had a good, long thought about the letter V. Finally I decided on Vocabulary. Not very surprising maybe as that is one of the most powerful tools of a writer. It’s easy to jot down a sentence, but to add the proper ‘pizzazz’ to it, one needs to know the right words. A sentence has to say something, it has to bring you, the reader, into the state of mind that makes a story come alive. “Joe walks down the street” conveys exactly what Joe is doing, and where he does it, but this way he’s just an average Joe, a man in the street.
Did you see what happened just now? I used some specific vocabulary, drawing in some common expressions to give Joe some ‘body’. He’s not Joe the banker, he an ‘average Joe’. To make it even more obvious, he’s mostly a typical person, a ‘man in the street’. By simply using these common expressions (I am sure that most of you know them and even use them occasionally), I have given Joe some appearance, a social environment.
How different does it feel when you see “Mr Joe walks down the street”? Mr Joe. Well, that’s not your average Joe. This is probably someone who stepped out of the suit department. Isn’t it fabulous how much difference such a small word can make? This is where writers have most fun – and also most problems. What is the right word for a specific scene, situation, problem or person? And that question can come up for at least 25% of the words in a book. With a count of let’s assume 75,000 words for a book we’re talking about 18,750 times this question. What is the right word here? Of course it’s not always very dramatic but it can be. For that writers need a broad vocabulary. And that gets worse when a story tells about a field that has a specific jargon. Usually a writer will have to dig deep to get the proper words out in the open, yet at the same time make the word clear to the people who are not into that field, so they know what the ‘bleep‘ this scientist, mechanic or quantum-physicist is talking about! Luckily this can be a lot of fun. 🙂 (Can be… 😉 )