The #Write #Word? Post 55

Word cloud via

When writing, do you have problems discovering the ‘right’ word? I do, sometimes. In trying to improve my own work, perhaps I can help others.

Today’s words: Vague, Very, Vemödalen, Vacuum.

Synonyms are alternative words that have the power to convey exactly what you’re trying to say.

Vague: Roget lists the following subheadings for this adjective; insubstantial, general, amorphous, shadowy, indistinct, uncertain, uninstructed, equivocal, reticent, and unclear. Under amorphous are another 48 suggested alternatives including unformed, shapeless, chaotic, nebulous, fuzzy, immature, unshapely and deformed.

Usage for Vague:

‘Beneath the uncertain light of a moon blinking through shredded clouds, the dark shape ahead was so vague and unsettling that Verity felt incapable of passing it.’

This tells a story, but it might be better expressed in a different way: ‘Faced with the uncertainty of the dark form intruding on her path, Verity sought a different way forward. The inconstant moon leant brief flickers of capricious light through broken tempestuous clouds, painting threat on that amorphous sinister shape until her courage fled and she retreated, seeking safety back in the place she’d hoped to leave.’

Have a go, see what you can come up with.

Adverbs: words used to strengthen a weak verb, added to a verb in order to give it more power. Often, the best way to avoid their use is to employ a strong verb instead.

Very: this is probably the most frequently used adverb. It means truly, absolutely, genuinely, mostly, exceedingly, extremely and greatly. So, it is the easiest way to express the idea of greatness, excellence, superiority, etc. It is, in short, a very tempting solution when seeking a way to emphasise the importance of whatever subject/emotion/quality you’re trying to convey. But we’re writers; we need imagination and variety and we avoid that easy route, don’t we?

‘Mary was very beautiful.’ What? You’d really write that? How about; ‘Mary took his breath away as she entered the room.’ Cliché and imprecision (she might’ve taken his breath due to ugliness, unconformity or any of a number of causes). So, we have a beautiful woman. Is she beautiful like a goddess? ‘Mary was that rare woman, a creature so divine she provoked a form of worship.’ Is she sexually beautiful? ‘Just looking at Mary aroused his most basic desires.’ Is she academically beautiful? ‘The first thought that entered his head on meeting Mary was that here was a woman with a most creative mind.’ You get the idea. Now, try it yourself.

Untranslatable emotions: The world’s languages contain numerous words for emotions (and other things) for which English has no equivalent. Most people know ‘schadenfreude’, from German, and ‘frisson’, from French, but there are more, and I introduce the last on my list here today.

Vemödalen: that sense of frustration when you photograph something amazing and realise thousands of identical photos already exist. Here’s the Venus de Milo, captured in the crowded Louvre during an instant when no one else with a camera was in view.

And, my own humorous, metaphorical, and often irreverent, thought-provoking, and controversial definitions of some common words for your entertainment, which I list under The Delusional Dictionary.

Vacuum: the emptiness occupying the skulls of most politicians; the space all potential leaders abhor and feel compelled to fill, usually with themselves; the absence of creative thought characteristic of individuals like Theresa May and Donald Trump.

Language learners may find this link a useful aid for pronunciation, and there’s a great group page on Facebook here.

I welcome your observations and suggestions here. And, if you’ve enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to share it with your followers and friends. Thank you.

2 thoughts on “The #Write #Word? Post 55

    1. English is full of odd words, mostly filched from other languages, so pronunciation has no consistent rules and confusion is inevitable. There’s a constant fight in UK about a particular word, ‘scone’ (you know, the pastry item you spread with jam and cream). Some insist it’spronounced to rhyme with ‘stone’, others will tell you it rhymes with ‘one’. And, in USA, I gather ‘vacuum’ is often pronounced ‘vacu-um’ instead othe British way, ‘vacume’.
      My guess is that for every confident pronunciation of such words there is one or more variation that will be lauded as ‘correct’ by others.
      So, Damyanti, I wouldn’t worry!


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