“Cherry picking” is often sneeered at as the needless attention to small details, but when it comes to finding the right word for your writing, cherry picking is not only acceptable but desirable. It’s the writer’s job to be clear, not the reader’s job to figure out what you’re trying to say. The March Hare’s admonition to Alice, “…you should say what you mean,” also applies perforce to writing. So, find and use the right word – it can be pivotal.
As any business expert will tell you, the key to a successful business is “location, location, location.” With writing, the key is “words, words, words.” The first “secret” for improving your writing is to develop a powerful vocabulary. It is the jumping off place to achieve clarity in writing. A strong vocabulary’s influence on successful writing is unquestionable. Vocabulary building is probably the single most important step you can take on the road to successful writing. It cannot be overemphasized.
A powerful vocabulary at your disposal is necessary to write compellingly and to avoid dry, colorless prose; the right words will enable you to become expressive and to develop a flair for writing. Words are your most important writing tools to command the reader’s attention. Properly used, they are potent weapons of persuasion. The breath and depth of your vocabulary will have a direct bearing on the effectiveness of your writing.
Words are the basic building blocks in any writing. They should fit together evenly like bricks in a wall. Properly used words will allow your sentences to flow smoothly like an unobstructed stream of water and avoid having the reader stop and look back to see how your ideas “hang together.”
Learn the meaning of words that can help you, then learn how to use them. Nothing will make your writing come alive faster than using the right words in the right places. Precise word usage will help elevate you in the eyes of the reader and convince the reader that you’re an accomplished writer.
Because words definitely matter, begin building your vocabulary by becoming a wordsmith. Obtain command over the specific words necessary to clearly express yourself. Otherwise you’re batting with two strikes against you. To write clearly and compellingly you need to know the precise words needed to crystallize your thoughts and how to use them.
Your writing should not be obtuse or complex like many government regulations or instructions. Nor should it be like reading an autopsy report – a straight forward recitation of facts with no emotion. On the other hand, you are not writing the great American novel either. It’s usually inappropriate to use flowery or picturesque language unless you are writing fiction. Use of the right words will help you achieve balance in your writing.
Study and use a good unabridged dictionary and thesaurus. These resources will help you find and use the right words, acquire a keen eye for language, and help in achieving correct diction. (Diction will be covered in a separate blog).
Because words are a writer’s most important tool, acquisition and use of an effective vocabulary should be considered an immediate and ongoing challenge.
Copyright 2012 Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.