Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Selecting the Best Word

This page is not a test. Instead it is a plea for you to help me write a book you will find pleasing. Most of the questions below do not have a right answer. They are simply opinions, but if there is a right answer I’ve listed it.

One of the challenges writers face, as you know, is selecting the most suitable words to fill every sentence. As I work on novel number five of the Covington Chronicles, I’d love your help.

Nobody who reviewed Secret Promise, The Courtship of Miss Loretta Larson, The Dream Bucket, Manuela Blayne, or Travelers in Painted Wagons (by Sarah Walker Gorrell and me) ever said, “You could have used better words,” except the time I used the wrong homonym in Secret Promise.

“14 Tips by Stephen King on Writing” is a popular post traveling through Facebook. Tip #11 is, “Never use emolument when you mean tip.” I had to look up emolument, which means compensation for services. I suppose the point is not to use a five-dollar word when a ten-cent word will do the job.

YOUR HELP NEEDED: I’m trying to decide which word to use in a description. Should I say upstanding man, honorable man, honest man, or upright man? What is the context? The man is being described in a flowery fashion a little more than one hundred years ago.

ANOTHER QUESTION: Which do you prefer? A hurried kiss or a quick kiss?

WHICH IS BETTER? Ravenous eyes or hungry eyes (describing a roomful of lecherous men.)

HOW ABOUT TWO MORE WORDS? Grubby men or dirty men.

CONFUSED WORDS: Sometimes I use the wrong word and feel very embarrassed. Clinched or clenched? Which did a girl do to her teeth? Clinch means to fasten. Clench is to hold something tight. Tricky, isn’t it? Answer; The girl clenched her teeth.

POLITICALLY INCORRECT? Would you say elderly man or senior man? Since when did elderly become a bad word?

SELECT THE BEST WORD: Are the fumes of burning coal dirty, nasty, or acrid?

WHICH WORD IS MORE DESCRIPTIVE? Sharp breath or harsh breath.

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