Learning new words and being able to find the word that means exactly what the story needs can mean the difference between a mediocre story and a brilliant one.
On Wednesdays we will identify an unusual word, provide its definition, and discuss its application or its impact.
Mark Twain says it so well that there’s very little left to add:
“The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
He does discuss one of my favorite topics, though, words and choosing the right ones. Look forward to Word Wednesday events, where we discuss interesting words, how they might be used, and what impact they have on the reader.
For this first Word Wednesday, I have a simple example from my current draft, where I was looking for the right word to describe gossip: “constant gossip” vs. “continued gossip.” As I was scribbling furiously, the first word starting with that hard “kuh” sound that came to mind was “constant,” which was almost right, but not quite. Half a line later I went back and replaced it with the word I really intended, “continued.”
Constant gossip implies whispers that never really die down and snide sotto voce comments whenever one enters the room that make one want to hide under the bed and never come out again. And I can’t tell a compelling story about my heroine, Del, if she never leaves her chambers…
Continued gossip, however, is much milder in tone but less avoidable. Every few weeks, someone brings the topic up again, everyone in the king’s court, not just the few snobbish courtesans who don’t like her, has heard this tidbit and they’re all waiting to see if it pans out. Del can ignore this gossip because it comes and goes, a matter of interest for the bored nobles at court but not important enough that someone will risk asking her about it directly.
What are your thoughts about the difference between constant and continued gossip? Do you agree with my word choice in the draft?