I have to tell you, this cake was good. By good, I don’t mean scrupulous, or righteous, nor do I mean proficient, talented, or adept. Of course not, that’s silly. This type good means yummy, delicious, and scrumptious. Good, with it’s various meanings, subtly deprives us of our connection to our senses. We want our readers to taste this cake, feel the moist heaviness, and savor the deep chocolate on our tongues. We want to inhale its sweetness as we lift our forks to our mouths. Good fails to be good enough.
Think of this part of the revision process as going on a writing safari to find robust words that replace flimsy words. We want words that bring a deeper level of understanding to our readers so they can experience the exactness of each situation.
He pushed her into agreement. Push means to press forcibly. If the writer had used pressed then that means a steady force. Maybe that works better for this scene. But what about the word nudged? Nudge means to gently push. Here the writer needs to choose the shade of meaning that best fits the masculine character in this scene.
Guess what? My personal preference is none of the above. A line like the above would be more fun if it was turned into action so the reader could visualize how he went about getting her to agree.
Last week before I sent my manuscript off to my editors something niggled at me about a minor scene. I scrolled to the worrisome sentence. The protagonist’s boss wondered if something the protagonist had requested was too expensive.
That’s what I wanted to convey. But it still didn’t feel right. That statement on the surface seemed to shut the door on further discussion.
A subtle message was missing. The boss didn’t actually want to deny her the request. Because he felt pressed to cut costs, changing the word expensive to extravagant presented the reader with a different level of meaning. Expensive equals high priced. Extravagant equals imprudent, lavish, or wasteful spending.
Wondering if something is too extravagant may hint to the reader that he might give more consideration to the request. If he does examine the merit of the request then the asked for funds might be granted.
These opportunities abound during revision if you hunt out watered-down words and replace them with more accurate words. When you do, you give your readers a chance to go deeper into your story with subtle shades of understanding.
Sigh. I wish I were a word smith.
What are some wimpy words you’ve replaced with richer, more accurate words?