Authors & Speakers Network Blog with Larry James

Saturday, September 24, 2011

So… What About “Word Choice?”

Filed under: Author Tips,Word Choice — Larry James @ 7:00 am

Being an author is an awesome responsibility. . . I hope you realize that. The words you choose to include in your writing have a profound impact on your readers. Word choice matters. Word choice influences meaning. Obviously word choice is just one thing to consider with you write. However, careful attention to word choice is paramount!

wordchoiceAre any words neutral?
Could they be heard in a different way than you intend?
Are they loaded with history you might not readily think about?
Do you use the best word or just settle for the most obvious, or the easiest, one?
Are they relevant to your topic?
Do you look for word repetition? Over-using your favorite word doesn’t work.
Do they accurately reflect your thoughts and feelings?
What perspective are they not calling forth for your readers?
Do your words flow off your tongue and are they really what you mean?
Are they keeping your readers from missing the important points?
Have you used some strong verbs or colorful phrases that hook your reader? – Words that speak to the senses build images.
Could a Thesaurus assist you in making smarter word choices that clarify your intent?
Do you double-check your words for “misused words?”
Are you willing to accept the suggestions of an editor? – That would be smart!
Have you only put forth you own ideas rather than doing a 360 around the topic that suggests many points of view?

These are only a few questions that I often ask myself as a write. Thinking about your audience and their expectations will help you make decisions about word choice. Word choice is a trait that shows the power of our language. I often will brainstorm word alternatives with other authors.

I’ve mentioned this before, and it is worth repeating. After you have written a page or two… let your writing rest. In other words, put it away for 24 hours, then go back and read aloud what you have written. I often will choose different words as I edit and sometimes the time-lapse will re-inspire me to come up with something completely different.

“Let the meaning choose the word.” ~ George Orwell

Be careful when using words you are unfamiliar with. Look at how they are used in context and check their dictionary definitions. It is important that the words you use be precise and that they express your ideas clearly. It is also important that the words you use are varied, so that you aren’t using the same words again and again.

onceuponatimeTake care when using a Thesaurus. Each word listed as a synonym for the word you’re looking up may have its own unique connotations or shades of meaning. Double-check with a dictionary to be sure the synonym you are considering really fits what you are trying to say.

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

With good word choice, the writer creates a mental picture for the reader by using words that are specific, accurate and descriptive. Slang, jargon, euphemisms, colloquialisms, contractions and clichés are out! Watch out for words that give your writing an air of your own biased judgments. Avoid superfluous or unnecessary words.

Trim the fat. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

Big words don’t necessarily make for good reading. Your advanced vocabulary is fine if it comes naturally to you, and when used correctly in an appropriate context.

Reading what you have written aloud can help you strengthen your style and maintain your voice. As you read, your voice will often break when you locate awkward phrasing, or short choppy sentences, or long strings of words that don’t mean a whole lot. Ask someone to read what you have written to you. Often you will hear what you don’t see, and having someone else read your writing puts a new “voice” behind your ideas.

Writing sometimes feels like fitting the pieces of a puzzle together. Think about your readers and the most convincing approach to those readers as you put your ideas into writing. Your words should dazzle your reader’s mind. Choose them well.

BONUS Article: Using a Thesaurus to Choose the Right Words

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Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact: AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. CelebrateLove@cox.net – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at: www.AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com and CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationships” BLOG at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Networking” BLOG at: http://NetworkingHQ.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Weddings” BLOG at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com

Friday, September 16, 2011

Authors Write – Authors Read!

Filed under: Author Tips,Guest Author Articles — Larry James @ 7:00 am

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7 Reasons Writers Should Read Every Day

Deborah Ng, Guest Author

As writers it’s part of our job to read. Now before you comment about how reading is a luxury and it’s hard to find the time to hang out with family, let alone read, let me urge you to reconsider. It’s a writer’s duty to read, and read often. Here’s why:

1. Reading helps us to stay focused and sharp. I don’t know how it is with you, but when I left the workplace I began to feel out of touch. I felt I was losing some basic skills. Reading keeps me sharp.

2. Reading keeps us updated. No matter what type of writer you are, you’ll need to know what’s going on in the world. Newspapers, magazine and even books keep us apprised and gives us different points of view.

3. Reading gives us ideas. Yesterday during piano lessons I was reading the latest issue of Wired. While doing so I came up for the idea for this post as well as several others. Reading is one of the best ways to get ideas for our writing.

4. Reading gives us knowledge. We don’t only gain knowledge through research. We also learn by reading and taking in facts – even if that’s not our intention. Even reading for pleasure is a learning experience.

5. Reading turns us on to other writing styles. As writers it’s important to learn different writing styles. Notice how formal one writer can be when writing an editorial for a newspaper, but more relaxed when blogging or writing a novel?

6. Reading is fun. Nothing is better for passing the time except maybe listening to music. Of course, I listen to music while I’m reading so I get the double whammy.

7. Reading sets a good example. When other people, especially children, see you reading they want to know why it’s so enjoyable.It’s not enough to read to your kids each night. If your children see you reading every day, they will want to do it too.

What did you read today?

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Copyright © 2011 – Deborah Ng. Deb Ng is a tireless champion of new freelance writers. She helps new writers get started via her list of freelance writing and blogging jobs, Freelance Writing Jobs (sold to SplashPress Media in July 2010). She is the Community Manager for BlogTalkRadio, and a serial guest blogger.

Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact: AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. CelebrateLove@cox.net – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at: www.AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com and CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationships” BLOG at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Networking” BLOG at: http://NetworkingHQ.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Weddings” BLOG at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Using a Thesaurus to Choose the Right Words

Filed under: Author Tips,Word Choice — Larry James @ 7:00 am

Writing is always a series of choices. It’s about expressing feelings and ideas with words. Choosing the right words to make your writing sizzle is of paramount importance.

Image of female hands on the keys typing documentsSometimes you may know what you want to say, but lack the precise words to express your feelings or ideas. Using a thesaurus helps, and using it properly is even more important. A thesaurus is a dictionary of synonyms and antonyms. Deciding which word in a thesaurus is best for your purposes is not always easy. However, a thesaurus can help you avoid repetition in your writing and will help you find a word for just about any idea you have in mind. A thesaurus can also be a good way to remind me of words I do know.

Stephen King once said, “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” While I respect Stephen King as a author, I must respectfully disagree.

My thesaurus an indispensable tool. I use a thesaurus to avoid repeating words within a sentence and avoid beginning successive sentences or paragraphs with the same words. It can help you avoid overused words and expressions. Only when your ideas are clear, honed, and fully refined, can you select the proper words to express them.

cartoonIf you want to replace a word of common usage, make sure the replacement is of common usage too. If you look up the word you seek to replace and can’t find that perfect substitute, select one word from the listing and look it up. Nothing there? Try again. Select another word from the list and look it up.

Your own experience can tell you when one word is better than another. Difficulties with word choice can be the cause of awkwardness, vagueness, or other problems with clarity. Use descriptive words or visual words that make it easy for the readers to “see” what is happening and to make what you want to say pop out on the page. It’s best to avoid jargon.

Once you have found the perfect word. . . let your writing rest for at least 24 hours. Come back later, read your creation aloud and make sure it sounds right and makes sense.

Sometimes the problem isn’t choosing exactly the right word to express an idea – it’s being overly “wordy,” or using words that your reader may regard as “extras” or superfluous. Turn to a thesaurus to find different, more expressive ways of speaking and writing, but we must turn to a dictionary, a sophisticated semantic tool, to determine meaning.

Remember, not all synonyms are created equal. When you find a synonym you think is appropriate, always double check its meaning in the dictionary before using it.

Remember, your choice of words reveals your personality and eventually will reflect your own writing style.

Words affect your readers emotions. Choose your words carefully and choose your words wisely.

Additional Resource: http://Thesaurus.com

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Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact: AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. CelebrateLove@cox.net – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at: www.AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com and CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationships” BLOG at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Networking” BLOG at: http://NetworkingHQ.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Weddings” BLOG at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com

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