Words do not have mass, nor do they occupy any space. And yet, they matter.
The beauty of words is such that despite being lifeless symbols, they are well capable of evoking a particular sensation or emotion in an individual. They trickle from a writer’s mind on to the paper, dwell there for a long, long time, and then feed into the reader’s mind.
If you are beginner, you must have heard – innumerable times – how crucial it is to have a competent vocabulary. That is only partially true. Knowing a number of words and being able to use them in the right context – are two separate skills. And the latter’s worth should never be underestimated. For instance, how do we know whether it would be a farrago of facts and fiction or a mixture of facts and fiction? Or how do we know whether to call something sarcastic, or satirical, or ironical, or simply funny? The distinction is not only important but paramount.
Besides, in case you’re unaware of a particular word, you can always probe the dictionary. However, if you do not know how to use those words, then you might find yourself at unease. Working with words is an art, and it takes time to be blossom. Which is exactly what we are going to do in this post.
Let’s take a look at words and their usage through a number of examples.
In Kafka’s book, a man becomes an insect.
In Kafka’s book, a man changes into an insect.
In Kafka’s book, a man metamorphoses into an insect.
Lesson: The more complicated word works? No. The lesson is, the more specific word works. Be more careful, if it’s a verb.
The world’s smartest person and the biggest idiot both stay within us.
The world’s smartest person and the biggest idiot both live within us.
Both Einstein and Charlie Chaplin live within us. (You can use different names depending on the place or the culture you live in)
Lesson: Avoid clichés. Don’t just be specific with the words, but also with the image you are creating in your reader’s head.
If Rushdie’s lexicon ameliorates his penmanship, it would ameliorate my penmanship too.
If Rushdie’s lexicon improves his writing, it would improve my writing too.
If Rushdie’s lexicon improves his writing, then so would mine.
Lesson: Maintain consistency in your writing. If it’s a dialogue, be extra-careful about the character’s lexicon. And choose the specific words.
Learn from all kinds of books no matter whether they are good or bad. Just see how the writer has written.
Read. Read everything. And see how they have written it.
Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it.
Lesson: Read aloud whatever you write. Your words should knock on your reader’s ears.
Finally, I would leave you with a bunch of sentences from some of the renowned books. You are the judge now, to decide which writer has used more appropriate words while describing certain ideas or emotions.
Love, like life, is so insecure. It moves in our lives and occupies its sweet space in our hearts so easily. But it never guarantees that it will stay there forever. Probably that’s why it is so precious.
The bond forged between us was not one that could be broken by absence, distance, or time. And no matter how much more special or beautiful or brilliant or perfect than me he might be, he was as irreversibly altered as I was. As I would always belong to him, so would he always be mine.
The saddest thing about love, Joe, is that not only the love cannot last forever, but even the heartbreak is soon forgotten.
Love her, love her, love her! If she favours you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces – and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear deeper – love her, love her, love her!
Our lives disconnect and reconnect, we move on, and later we may again touch one another, again bounce away. This is the felt shape of a human life, neither simply linear nor wholly disjunctive nor endlessly bifurcating, but rather this bouncey-castle sequence of bumpings-into and tumblings-apart.