Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lightning vs. Lightning Bug

Quote: "Bold writers run the risk not only that readers in general will see right through them but that readers they care about will see them for who they are and walk away." -Ralph Keyes The Courage to Write

The following was taken from The Writer's Block by Jason Rekulak:

Mark Twain dispensed plenty of advice to writers over his career, but perhaps no remark was more famous than this: "The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the same as that between lightning and the lightning bug." Word choice is crucial in any story, and even the moist arbitrary of decisions will establish and change the tone of your fiction. To illustrate this pint, poet and novelist John Balaban asks his creative writing students to consider the words stomach, belly, tummy, gut, and abdomen. These words all refer to the same thing, yet they all carry very different connotations (poets love to dwell on a pregnant mother's belly, but I've read very few odes to a pregnant mother's gut!). If you're having trouble with a story, review every line and make sure the tone is consistent. Have you written the word love when you really mean affection, passion, or tenderness? Are you using the word money when you mean cash, currency, dough, capital, or moolah? By fine-tuning word choice, you can zero in on the heart and soul of your fiction.

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