Writing Craft

Choosing Your Words Wisely, Part 1

There are a number of reasons for the apparent decrease in reading in the world, from attention-span changes brought on by reader’s addiction to various “screens” to climate change.

But it might simply be a vocabulary problem.

The first time this concept came to me was about 25 years ago in a New York City taxi when a very talkative driver and I discussed local sports, politics and society in general all within the confines of a 25 minute drive from the airport to my hotel.

I am pretty certain we solved all the world’s problems with the exception of climate change, which wasn’t covered in our mobile summit conference.

Without going into specifics, he used one certain word of the “curse phylum” to describe every person, athletic team, politician, event, traffic light, pothole, bridge, tunnel, other driver, toll booth and piece of luggage. Apparently, even the football used by one of the local teams was not above being described with this word since no one could seemingly hold on to it to his satisfaction.

Fortunately, I escaped being described in this manner as I left a good tip along with the fare, which could arguably be described as “enabling” his bad behavior.

The man had a vocabulary problem. And he was just the tip of the iceberg.

So, you know, today, we literally, seriously like have this ridiculous problem with words used over and over so we get literally obsessed with certain ones. Seriously, like, so you know what I mean? So I literally heard yesterday book reading is so literally decreasing and seriously no one knows why, literally no one.

So you seriously know what I mean?

It could be a vocabulary issue. More and more people are using fewer and fewer words and we end up with reading problems. Maybe people don’t understand the variety of words found in books?

(Pause to cleanse brain…wait for it, wait for it…)

Okay, enough of this.

A few years ago, I attended a conference for authors in the broader market (not just Christian) and many of the attendees embraced the language and vocabulary of the day in their writing and found both growing readership and financial success.

For example, what this meant to those writing to teenagers is they included profanity, sexual innuendo and even blatant sexual and violent descriptions in their work, hoping to draw readers. Their deep scholarly research evidently indicated boys and girls entering puberty liked to read about sex.

Who would have figured?

I wish their word choices were limited to “so,” “I mean,” “literally,” “you know” and “obsessed.”

Instead, many writers choose the lowest common denominator and write to it. They don’t write books to transport the reader from the mire, they write to join them in the hole they are digging.

At the risk of repeating myself, this further explains the wide canyon, which separates general/broader market publishing and Christian books. For the most part, they are very far apart in just about every imaginable aspect.

Maybe my “limited vocabulary” hypothesis is not the reason book reading is in decline, but it does mean we shouldn’t join the world in the deep hole they dig with language.

Christian authors write into a world not controlled by Psalm 19 where words of one’s mouth and the meditations of one’s heart are desired to be acceptable to God.

But this doesn’t excuse the Christian writer from desiring God’s acceptance for their choice of words. And they are very different.

Literally.

Leave a Comment

Five Lessons from the Road to Publication

Our guest post is by Ginny L. Yttrup who is the award-winning author of five novels including her latest, Home, which released earlier this month. She writes contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys exploring the issues everyday women face. “Publishers Weekly” dubbed Ginny’s work “as inspiring as it is entertaining.” When not …

Read More

Where Do You Find New Clients?

“As an agent, what percentage of your new clients come from meetings at conferences vs. general email or postal proposals? Can you address the importance of conferences?” Thanks to Scott for the question. It is a good one. Another way to frame it is “Where do you find new clients? …

Read More

Writing the Deeper Story

I realize this will probably date me, but I sincerely enjoyed a popular radio feature by Paul Harvey called, “The Rest of the Story.” I assume some reading this post today also remember it. For generations, the venerable radio commentator, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 90, …

Read More

Go Ahead: Take an Online Break

Wow, what great sites you all shared. Thanks so much for letting us in on your online breaks. So here are the places I like to go when I need a break. Some are great for just a few minutes, some give a nice long break. But they’re all great …

Read More

Presidential Quotes

Today is President’s Day in the U.S. Originally established in 1885 as a recognition of George Washington’s birthday (February 22nd), it was later expanded to include Abraham Lincoln and all other U.S. presidents. Some of the words of these leaders have stood the test of time. For example from Abraham …

Read More

Easily Entertained

Recently my husband, daughter, and I had dinner with my parents at King’s Barbeque in Petersburg, Virginia. My paternal grandfather discovered this restaurant in the 1950s and it is still one of our family’s favorite places. Since it was near Christmas, they displayed a unique decoration – a pig wearing …

Read More

Remove the Barriers in Fiction

Few things empower fiction better than well developed characters. Which is why you don’t want to create unintentional barriers between your characters and your readers. What barriers, you ask? Well, here’s one that affects POV characters: John knew he was about to learn something important. Do you see it? The …

Read More