Friday, July 31, 2009

Do you use pretty words??

One day I was sitting here...editing...hubby was on the adjacent couch watching some TV (probably UFC...ewwwwwww). I needed a different word for ivory. So I pulled up my favorites and went to most used word site. I typed in 'ivory' and clicked thesaurus. In 2.5 seconds, I had tons and tons of words that meant ivory. One jumped out: nacreous.

I made a comment and hubby asked what I was talking about, so I told him. His response: Why would you use that? No one will know what that means.

In the end, I agreed and went with something else. But it made me writers, do we often use words for their beauty on the page and the sound they make rather than if they are really the right word to get out point across to the reader?? Cause in the end, it's the reader that matters, right??? And how many people out there would know what 'nacreous' means? I know what it means now, but before I typed 'ivory' into my thesaurus, did I?? No. There was probably a way to add in my pretty word and use surrounding text to let the reader know what the word meant...but why confuse the reader and make them have to reread the sentence?

I've read pieces where it seemed like the writer took a thesaurus and replaced every word in the piece with the most ostentatious word they could find. Are writers who do that just trying to show off...make themselves look like a really fantastic writer??? I don't know. For me, the bottom line...if my reader can't understand what my story is is a failure.


  1. One famous writer (I forget who) once said never use a word you don't know the meaning for...I think far too many writers do that for the reasons you mentioned above.

    ~ Wendy

  2. I've had the hardest time writing for children because I realize I have to simplify words I'm used to using in my adult writing. I rarely will go to the thesaurus because I find, usually, the word that came to mind first is the best word.

  3. I didn't know what that word meant either. I use the Thesaurus sometimes but usually only if the word doesn't sound quite right or if I've used it recently and need an alternative word.

  4. Me too...sometimes my brain just does not work!! And the only word that comes to mind is something I've used a zillion times already!!