The #Write #Word? Post 26

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Struggle to find the ‘right’ word for your writing? You’re not alone. Maybe, in trying to improve my own work, I can help other writers.

Today’s words: Science Fiction, Somewhat, Sceptic/Denier, Set forth in, Solicitor.

Synonyms are alternative words that might say exactly what you’re trying to convey.

Science Fiction: defined as a genre of fiction and film that deals with speculative elements and often includes space and time travel, engages with advances in science and technology, and alien lifeforms. Science fiction, sometimes shortened to Sci-Fi, also deals with social issues and environmental concerns. Many readers declare a dislike of the genre and reject it out of hand, which is a great shame, as they’re missing some extremely well-written and accessible literature. The biggest ‘fiction’ relating to science fiction is that it’s all Star Wars, space opera, battles among the stars, etc. In fact, science fiction covers a huge range of topics and has been written by an enormous range of writers, many of whom most readers will be aware of through their other works. These include such luminaries as Kingsley Amis, Margaret Atwood, Cyrano De Bergerac, Roald Dahl, Arthur Conan Doyle, E.M. Forster, Franz Kafka, Rudyard Kipling, Doris Lessing, H.P. Lovecraft, James Patterson, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, and Jonathan Swift.

Add to this pantheon the classical authors better known for their science fiction; Aldous Huxley, H.G. Wells, George Orwell, and Jules Verne, and you have a list of authors most people would be proud to have on their shelves. For a more complete list of authors in this genre, click on this link. For reasons best known to the compiler, he seems to have missed me off this list, but I feel no resentment!

Is there a synonym for Science Fiction? It’s a proper noun, so there are no real synonyms, but it can certainly be included in the heading of ‘speculative fiction’, and ‘imaginative stories’.

Redundancies: words serving no purpose. In speech, they’re spacers, giving the speaker time to think. But in writing they slow the reader’s progress.

Somewhat: is a somewhat lame adverb, meaning partially, slightly, a little, rather. It’s often used in mild humour, but as a descriptor it’s weak and somewhat lacking. If you’re writing creatively, it’s probably better left out of your vocabulary, unless it’s included in direct speech in keeping with the character portrayed.

Words often misused: because it has stolen terms from many languages, English often uses words that superficially appear to mean something similar. However, as wordsmiths, we owe it to our readers to get it right, don’t you think?

Sceptic/Denier: a sceptic is someone who questions evidence; a denier rejects it without consideration. So, a sceptic is a person who deals with conflicting ideas using a rational approach. But a denier is someone who rejects ideas with which he fails to agree, and does so from an emotional rather than a rational standpoint.

Plain-Language Alternatives for Wordy Phrases: some writers, especially those new to the craft, use more words than necessary. We can often substitute a single word for a phrase.

Set forth in: means ‘in’.

‘The rules and regulations are set forth in the appendix.’ Can be more succinctly rendered; ‘The rules and regulations are in the appendix.’ ‘Set forth’ is redundant, so let’s exclude it.

And, my own, sometimes humorous, sometimes metaphorical, sometimes controversial, definitions of some common words for your entertainment, which I’ll list under The Delusional Dictionary.

Solicitor: any of a group of professional charlatans who charge exorbitant amounts to resolve problems made complex by the same group who devise the laws of the land; persons engaged in separating legality from morality to the advantage of wealthy clients and themselves.

Language learners might find this link useful for pronunciation, and you’ll find a great group page on Facebook via this link.

I contribute a monthly column to an online magazine, Pandora’s Box Gazette, where I also deal with the use of words. To see the most recent, please click this link.

Your observations and suggestions are welcome in the comments section below. And, if you’ve enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to share it with your friends. Thank you.