The Six Traits: Word Choice

Tuesday, August 25


Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
~C. S. Lewis

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.
~Mark Twain

When brainstorming today's topic I remembered these quotes from back in June.
Word choice is important. It makes charaters leap off the page, makes action seem real, and adds prose-like quality.
The Number One Rule (and I'm guilty of it myself) is DON'T USE WORDS YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND.
I sometimes use words I've heard that sound long and fancy, even if I have no clue what they mean. Then it usually backfires and makes me sound…well, not as brilliant as I’d hoped.
 
That lovely thesaurus word isn’t always the right word. Small words have a place in literature. Small words are especially useful when describing something huge and “beyond description.”
 
Like most of the six traits, you don’t have to worry about word choice during the first, or even the second, draft. It’s more of a polish than a building block.

Rubric:
Words convey the intended message in a precise, interesting, and natural way. The words are powerful and engaging.

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