I love words. Here are some words I particularly like.
You will notice that they’re all descriptive words. Here’s a quick writing exercise for you – write down the first five words you think of when you think ‘some words I like’.
Whatever kind of words they are – verb, adjective, criticism, descriptor, long words, double-meaning words, words starting with X – they’re likely to be the ones you use just a bit too often. I forget where I read this, but I have consistently found it to be true. I grew up reading Tolkien and other high-fantasy authors heavy on the….
GODDAMN IT WHY DO I ALWAYS FORGET THIS ONE WORD ARGH THAT WORD YOU KNOW THE ONE IT MEANS WHEN YOU TELL WAY TOO MUCH IN A BIG CHUNK EXPOSITION! EXPOSITION THAT WAS IT!
Ahem. That’s actual stream of consciousness right there.
Anyway. I actually like exposition. I love old-fashioned novels that spend the first three pages dumping backstory on you in a charmingly prim, sternly punctuated sort of way. I like reading long descriptions of the country our heroes are travelling through and what they eat on the way. I’ve heard many criticisms of Tolkien’s obsession with talking about food, but have never agreed with them – food’s important when you’re travelling. And hard to get. And heavy. It’s actually a thing, here!
Did you know that Enid Blyton deliberately included many descriptions of delicious food in her novels because she was writing for children and children like to eat? I vaguely remember reading that somewhere and it seems legit, but I couldn’t be bothered to look it up, so, you know, trufax. Except now I’m feeling guilty for not doing my research. Half a mo.
Google did not immediately turn anything up on Ms Blyton’s motives, but here’s a nice Scotch Egg recipe I found.
So. Back to the words. If you really like a certain kind of word – or any other writing quirk, like the abuse of the ellipsis – you probably use it a little too often for your potential reader’s tastes. In the same vein as ‘kill your darlings’, cut your favourite words unless they’re absolutely necessary. If you’re anything like me, your definition of ‘absolutely necessary’ will mean plenty of them survive the culling.
I hope you all have a great day. My daughter just came up to me and gently stuck a purple smiley face sticker on my forehead. I liked it. So here is a virtual smiley face sticker, from me to you. Stick it on yourself somewhere conveniently visible!