Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Small Dissertation Regarding Vocabulary

Good morning, fellow readers and scribes. This past month or so I've been on a reading kick. I do that when my writing muse gets stuck. Oft times, I think I do this to find settings and thoughts that might spark my whimsical interest. I dig through current releases and ones that grace my bookshelves, revisiting old friends.

But what makes a great story, for me? There are so many parts that my reading monster craves. The characters must sing...jump off the page with their enthusiasm and realism. Even a lady who is in search of a titled gentleman for a husband must be in posession of a sparkling spirit and practical manner. Secondly, the plot should not be so transparent that I can tell the story without turning the page, or indeed, skipping over paragraphs that simply fill space.
And lastly...this is something I only came to realize in the last few days.
I love words. And if there is one thing that will draw me into a love affair with an author/'s a really good vocabulary. Sometimes this gets me in trouble on a day to day basis. One time I got into a screaming match with a co-worker that "niggle" was not a word. And even if it was, I had no business trying to use it in daily conversation. *shrug* I still employ niggle when it seems appropriate.

Anyway, a few days ago, I was searching for something to read. I had not purchased anything by Stephanie Laurens in over a year. The last book I finished by her, I had decided was too predictable. But, I was bored and really, if there is one author that inspired my addiction to historical romance, it's her. So, I bought "A Taste of Innocence". I turned page after page. Yes, I still could see the plot coming a mile ahead, and even though the characters were typical, they were still imbued with her special brand of magic. BUT, the one thing that sparked my attention, grabbed me and sucked me in...the vocabulary.

Like so many of my favorite authors of all times (Le Guin, McCaffrey and Tolkein), Ms Laurens uses "big words". I LOVE IT! I say them in my head over and over. I will even bring up a dictionary, if needed. Because, by using our language in the manner it was intended, these authors say exactly what they mean. They employ the precise word for the occassion, expanding my enjoyment of the tale and simply the joy of discovery.

I have been told, from time to time, that I should not utilize my vocabulary when writing, that it will put off the reader. But I've also learned that each author brings their own special voice to the table when they write. For some of us, that means putting words to paper in a way that every person on the corner says. I've never been that person on the corner. I don't talk that way. I speak...perhaps I have read too many books in my life...but I actually do speak as my writing does. My boss has asked me on more than one occassion what a word meant in a memo I issued. He usually asks with a raised eyebrow and a shrug, but I'm not his precise version of a corporate manager, so there we are.

So, I ask of you, dear reader, do you enjoy finding a new word when reading? Or am I truly an odd duck on this planet? I don't mind if I am. I'm rather comfortable in these eclectic clothes I've chosen.

Look for a my upcoming release The Forgotten Princess at NCP.

Love, S.D. Grady


Monica Burns said...

Rest assured, you're not the only one who loves to read lush, big, strong words that provide rich descriptions. It's why I love historical romance and why I write it. I don't mind having to look up a word. One of my fav words is ennui. It gives ambiance to the word boredom. A good use of vocabulary makes any writing richer. Like chocolate.