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Posts Tagged ‘Choice’

Last week I talked about purpose in writing and this week I thought I would expand on the idea and talk about how word choice impacts on perception.

We see examples of this every day – from politicians to journalists and even in the most mundane conversations we might have at work or in a shop.  Word choice can make someone feel good, or leave them deflated, unsure, or scared.

It makes sense, therefore, to think hard about the type of language a character will use.

Maybe you have a cheerful, happy go lucky character who always sees the possibilities of a situation.  In conversation they would be upbeat and positive, and using a phrase like ‘I hate her’ would would be completely out of character.

That’s not to say they can’t say it – it might be a reflection of the extent to which another character should be disliked or distrusted – but that it wouldn’t be a throwaway comment like it might be for a teenager complaining about their classmate.

Of course language is also more subtle: a description of someone as being ‘unlike my friends’ instantly makes them an outsider, something other, and puts up a barrier between the narrator and the person.  A description of a group as ‘infesting’ somewhere makes them a plague or like vermin.  When your narrator says someone is ‘worn at the edges’ it tells you that the person they are describing is a little scruffy and tired looking, and your narrator is making a judgment on that basis.

There are countless examples in every book so it’s worth reading with the word choice in mind.  Change a few words in your head, and see the impact.

Word choice can fundamentally change the perception of the reader and it is incredibly important to get it right. If you want a character to be likeable, don’t make them use mean or unpleasant language.  If you want someone to be mysterious, don’t make them verbose.

The same principle applies to all elements of writing: scenes, descriptions, expositions all need to be approached with a clear view of how to convey your message, your story, through the words you choose.

That is the best way possible to share the world you imagine with your reader.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

 

 

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Panto season is over and I will be free to catch up with my writing and coursework next week.

I have spent some time reflecting on the experience over the last few weeks and it seems to me that the balance of effort to outcome, of writing time lost to benefit gained, may be a little out of kilter.

Has it helped my writing?  Yes, in some ways it has, as I said on Thursday.  It has also given me ideas for future scenes and stories and put me in touch with some very interesting people who may be able to help me in the future.

But time is finite and I have to start thinking about where it can best be used.  Months of rehearsals and planning meetings have led me to the conclusion that I need to reconsider my dramatic interludes.

I am not a performance poet, or a regular public reader, and I know that I need to improve my presentation skills for readings and to build my confidence in sharing my work.  In theory, acting could help with this. However, in reality I don’t think this is the case.  Acting (as we do it) is comedic, unpolished and a team effort.  It is not refined or professional enough to bring to a poetry reading.

Furthermore, being yourself on stage, sharing your own thoughts, is somewhat different to playing a character and reciting someone else’s words.  When I act I feel nervous and embarrassed before going on stage. When I read my own work I feel anxious, exposed and vulnerable.  It matters so much more that the two are almost incomparable.

So from a writing point of view I lose more in time than I gain in skills.

On a personal basis I miss writing in those weeks I don’t do it: I don’t have the right balance in life.  Acting feeds my need to be creative but not my need to develop and explore my own ideas.  It doesn’t fulfil me or challenge me to be better because it doesn’t matter.

I act for fun: writing is a need.  If I have any doubt about what I should and shouldn’t agree to in the future that distinction should help!

In other news – after a short hiatus writing group is back soon and the plan for an open mike event is taking shape, so I hope to have more on that next time!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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I love books. I love the smell of them, the feel of them, the excitement as I turn the pages to that first word. I love to see them all on my shelves and I would give up tv and music before I gave up my books.

And I have suddenly got so many new reads, I don’t know where to start.  Here, in fact, is a partial selection of my to-read pile, which I want to make my way through so I can get to the next dozen or so!…A few of my reading list

Do I choose a fantasy, a romance, a classic, a murder mystery, a police procedural, a spy thriller, a literary fiction, a non-fiction, a poetry anthology? Do I try something a bit new for me, or something more familiar?

This is not a problem, I know 🙂

Most importantly, I want to find a new voice to add to the written chorus of my life. I want to keep seeking out writers, in every form, who I haven’t discovered before and who bring a new dimension to my reading.

A while ago, I thought about going back to my studies and taking a qualification in English Literature (language, not origin!); it would give a depth to my experience of reading.  It’s what I imagined I would do, when I was a little girl, and before the discovery of social sciences changed my worldview.

But every time I think about it I wonder what I would lose at the same time.  I wouldn’t have time to explore everything I wanted to because I would be so focussed on a few books/plays/poems.  Almost certainly, I would spend time with a writer who doesn’t bring their world to life for me (there are a few, although happily it is only a few).  I might lose my joy in a particular favourite.

I don’t need another qualification and I don’t want my love of reading to be diminished (it happened once before, which  I lay squarely at the feet of King Lear!), so I never go beyond the thought.  But it is always there – because reading is a huge part of who I am and what influences my own writing.

Maybe one day.  For now, I will choose a book from the horn of plenty that is my bookshelf, and revel in the fact that I can read whatever I like.  Not everyone can say that, and I know how incredibly fortunate that makes me.

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

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