A Writer’s Vocabulary

If you have ever read a book and been transported temporarily to an entirely different realm, you have been a victim of a good writer.   Writers know that the choice of the right word at the right time can create an entirely unique mood, setting, or feeling.

Being an effective writer means having a versatile vocabulary.  Consider this quote from A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle:

"Suddenly there was a great burst of light through the Darkness. The light spread out and where it touched the Darkness the Darkness disappeared. The light spread until the patch of Dark Thing had vanished, and there was only a gentle shining, and through the shining came the stars, clear and pure."

L’Engle chooses vivid words throughout the passage.  Words like “burst”, “spread”, “vanished", and “gentle” help paint a picture for the reader.  Sure, the author could have used less expressive, less stimulating words to tell the same story, but by using more vivid vocabulary, she is able to draw the reader deeper into her story.

If you want to improve your own writing, you should start by examining the vocabulary you use.  Is it gripping?  Active?  Dramatic?  Or does it feel generic, disconnected, or dull? 

A good writer can express elation, depression, confusion, or indignation with the right turn of a word.  By just varying the subjects, verbs, nouns, and adjectives in your writing, you can elevate your writing to a whole new level.

If you feel that your writing vocabulary is too limited, you might want to make an active effort to grow it.  This can be done by reading widely, taking the time to look up unfamiliar words that come up in books or in conversation, subscribe to a “word-of-the-day” service, and playing word games.

Having fun with words is one of the most fun and effective ways to build your vocabulary and thereby make your writing stand out.  Enjoy words.  Savor them.  Find out their etymology, their uses, their synonyms and antonyms.  When you have fun with words, it will show in your writing. So to be a more interesting writer, all you need is a love of words!

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