Finding the right words15 May 2012
I in a previous blog I wrote about not being sure about how to spell two words and that I had to look them up. I found myself typing the word ‘nascent’ and had a ‘whoa’ moment. Where did that come from? I don’t know where I learned the word and what it means or where that particular bit of learning took place. Then again, I have no recollection of when I first slipped ‘the’ in between ‘want’ ‘book’ when I was a kid or how I learned to create sentences. However ‘nascent’ entered my vocabulary I am glad did though because it was the perfect word for that bit of my text.
Focus on individual words is a part of the joy for a writer and I guess that is where the craft comes in. Some writers have such a gift for it - Gibson comes to mind. If anyone fancies an exercise in finding the right words, try describing a firework display in a meaningful way that is not repetitive or hammy but does capture the magic - the exercise includes the caveat that the text must be between 180-200 words. I used the expression ‘willowy brocades’ in a piece I wrote and I was quite chuffed with that.
Sometimes words have alluded me for ages and I have picked one that would do for now. Invariably the right one has come to me later - in bed, in the shower, having a pee and then I have rushed back to exchange it. At other times I have wondered if Alzheimers was creeping in. Not only could I not find the word I couldn’t even find one close to it. There was a particular word eluding me today which kept coming into my head as ‘recindual’ - no such word of course. Still got some highlighted asterisks in that part of a text ready for when the damn word comes out of hiding (I don’t mean rescind, recede, or residual - what the hell is the word I am grappling for?).
As a writer I spend much time really thinking closely and carefully about words and the capacity and power of them. Sorting them, curling them round and stretching them out. Its a delight.
How do you find just the right words?