Thursday, April 3, 2014

Greatly improving your vocabulary

Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say infinitely when you mean very; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something very infinite. ~ C. S. Lewis

Hello, fellow writers! The other day, Angelica shared an article in our OA group forum about word choices and how some words can be used so much, their true meanings no longer hold value (more on that article in a bit); and it got me thinking about how those words can become crutches to the actual story and characters and whatnot in our writing.

For instance, what if every time something great happened I said the word great?

"Great," she said.

"It looks great," he told her.

"Great job," he told his kid.

"I think it went great!"

You're all great and the greatness that comes from your great uncle Peter means you've inherited great traits; gee, isn't it great? 

These potatoes are great, too. Please pass the bowl this way.

When using the same word over time, we slowly (though unintentionally) diminish its meaning until it really isn't that great at all. In fact, it's barely even nice at times. It's like saying soda... when you say, "I'd like a soda" you don't really mean a soda, you mean Coke or Dr. Pepper or Sprite or diet something. But soda is just soda and if all anyone ever said was soda, then the people serving could grab whatever kind of soda they wanted and the people could be drinking Shasta or Mr. Pibb instead of the real thing, but who would know the difference? (Hmm... Perhaps that's not the best example.)

Let's use one of the words in the actual article: awesome.

It's so awesome to know that all of you awesome writers do such awesome work and appreciate the awesomeness that is Operation Awesome. (What?)

I, for one, definitely use that word way too much. It seems the only two words I ever use for my (much loved) cover artist are awesome or amazing. Not that she isn't both of those, because she is, but wow, there you go... those are the two words mentioned in said article (I promise--it's coming!) which means it is time for me to find some new ones!

So when Angelica threw stupendous out as an alternate choice for awesome, I had to laugh, and agree, because it really is more exciting and unique, don't you think? And then I thought for a bit and decided that when my next cover is revealed *cough* *Monday* *cough* I'm going to tell everyone how splendiferous Hafsah is. Because she is.

Here is the article. (Thanks for being so patient.)

Before you click on it (or after you do and come back), I'd like to ask you all to participate in sharing some fascinating, inspirational words that we may not normally use in writing or conversation (but totally can). Let's expand our vocabulary beyond amazing, people!  See you in the comments!


  1. umm....Fabulous :D (though I use that one a lot too lol)

  2. There's a word I love that's starting to lose its meaning, too: epic. I'll be downcast (not merely sad) when epic really means everyday or blah.


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