May 7, 2010, Newsletter Issue #201: Word Magick

Tip of the Week













Below are several archived tips from the former “Word Magick” category. Though some tips have been edited by the current guru, James Gapinski, most are the original creations of past Life Tips gurus.



Crystallize your adjectives
 


Modifiers should only be used when the noun they describe can't stand alone. The object of good writing is to get sentences distilled to their simplest, most resonant forms. When you must use an adjective or an adverb, make it a sharp one that makes the noun stronger. Carefully edit your writing for modifiers that don't add anything.
 


Connect with words, create better fiction
 


Words are the electrons and protons of fiction. Therefore, it is important to connect with them, explore them, tap into their subtler meanings. The next time you edit a story, focus closely on each and every individual word. Are they as specific as you can get them? Do they roll around on the tongue, or evoke sensory responses? Do they contribute to the punch and flow of your writing? If the answer to any of these is no, begin making lists of "fatter" words that could replace the weaker ones.
 


Thought, energy, and writing
 


Words are thoughts in concrete form. And what are thoughts but energy rising in your mind to produce an idea and an accompanying emotion? Think about this when you choose words. You aren't just saying something. You're giving the energy of your unique thoughts a form and a shape that only you can give it. This is why spells and religious chants/songs have such meaning for their creators as well as their receivers, and why they are powerful. Writing is a sacred act, and therefore each word you put on paper must be the best, most descriptive, most concrete you can choose. If you're not careful, you might end up saying something you didn't mean or want to say!
 


Keep Track of Interesting Words
 


As a writer, you should develop a curiosity about the origins, meanings, and various connotations of a given word. Try devoting a page or two in the back of your journal to interesting words you run across in your reading. Writing them down will make it more likely that you incorporate them into your writing.
 


Succinct, simple words
 


Words should act as a switch, clicking on an image or idea. They should be specific and succinct. Phrases such as “he was her everything” are simply too vague, allowing the reader to insert his own interpretations of what you mean to say.
 


Vocabulary Enrichment Resources
 


Below is a list of books that will help you improve your writerly vocabulary.
 


The Highly Selective Dictionary of Golden Adjectives for the Extraordinarily Literate, by Eugene Ehrlich.




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