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.