Monday, October 15, 2012

Words Mean Something

I know, the title to this post seems like a total no brainer. But I don't think we think about it enough.

The other day one of my kids was pressing a button on a toy that played "row, row, row, your boat" over and over. It reminded me of a time when my uncle taught me the 'big words' version that goes something like this:

Propel, propel, propel, your craft
Placidly down the liquid solution
Ecstatically,  ecstatically, ecstatically, existence is but an illusion.

As I mulled over those words I realized that although the basic concept of the song is still in tact, the words have altered the meaning.

Go ahead and look up merrily in a thesaurus, ecstatically will be one of the alternate choices, but to me ecstatically means more of a feverish excitement. Merrily intones more contentment than excitement.

Not to mention the last phrase - 'life is but a dream' brings to mind a floating kind of peace, whereas "existence is but an illusion" brings to mind a deeper question and meaning to what life is. 

It made me think about the words I choose as I write. Yes, I could replace some of my words with others that sound 'smarter' but does that really convey how my character thinks and acts? Is it a word they would really use, and does it fit the tone of the book?

Words do matter, and we should be careful which choices to make for our book.
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