Choices, made in the heat of the [writing] moment, can be rough, okay, good, great or fantastic. Not really. Generally, the choices made in the flash of inspiration can be either cliche (‘cos that’s the quickest to come to mind) or good/great. But to make it fantastic, to buff it to the greatest shine, takes work.
So, here we are at the crossroads. Shannon Hunter and I are working on Equine Neophyte of the Blood Desert (Title subject to change, like everything else at this stage), and we’re at the stage of choosing what works best for that event, scene, purpose, section, Act, etc.
We don’t actually argue [well, not too much], but there’s a lot to be said for wanting the best. The trouble is understanding the meaning of what ‘best’ is for the story. Is it the best word, the one that says it clearly and in a defined way, doesn’t take any effort to understand the meaning and context? Is it the one that goes just a little deeper and plays more than one tune? Or is it the [who said this?] $5 word.
Now, I don’t mind the odd $5 word. And I don’t even mind the occasional one. And I have been known to use a word no one else is likely to comprehend if it wasn’t quite clear from the context. And that’s where I like the $5 words. In a sentence or paragraph that makes the meaning clear, defined and absolutely no doubt about it – from the context created by the other words that surround it.
That’s me. I’ve learned this the hard way, and as a reader. If I was busy enjoying a read and then found a word that didn’t ‘fit’ the context, I’d stop and look it up, or skip it and huff. If I looked it up and found it didn’t make a lot of sense for being there, and could have been another word entirely, a simple one that wouldn’t have taken me out of the story – that creates a bit of angst. Do you think I’d search out that author again? So that’s what I consider now when writing my own $5 words.
What would be worse is the ‘skip it’ action. If I do that once in a book/novel/story because I don’t understand the meaning behind the use of the word, I am much [much, much, much] more likely to continue that action until I get to the end. You see, I like to finish books, but the more annoyed I get, the more I skip – just to get out of the journey. I’ve had enough of this one and just want to go home.
The lesson in all of this? Having a discussion about whether to put a word in or not is the most important decision you make as a reader, and there is no more important person in the world of story words. And if the reader can’t get the gist of meaning from what surrounds the $5 word, please put that word back in the bank and use one that’s more appropriate for the real reader.
Now, back to work!