Showing posts with label Word Choices. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Word Choices. Show all posts

Friday, June 11, 2010

Juicy Words

I love juicy words.  That's how the language arts teachers at my kids' school describe high-impact words, the verbs and modifiers that lift your writing from mediocre to extraordinary.

I'm reading a book by Kenneth J. Harvey called The Town That Forgot How to Breathe.  Harvey is a juicy writer.  His instincts are sharp, and he chooses words that carry a lot of bang for their buck, and which sound good in the company of the other words in their sentence -- and yet, his writing is never self-indulgent verbiage.

For example, from the chapter I read last night:

"The shark rose high in the air as the crane swiveled toward the huge grey plastic container that lay on the back of a flatbed ...Gulls followed faithfully above the suspended shark, gliding weightlessly, as if attached by guide wires."

Swiveled is an action verb of distinct movement, easily invoking the intended imagery.  Instead of "truck," Harvey said flatbed, again guiding us to specific mental pictures.  And notice the alliteration in the second sentence:  gulls/gliding/guide; followed/faithfully; suspended/shark.  The [s] sound is further reinforced with consonance: gulls/weightlessly/as/wires.  And assonance enhanced the lyrical sound of the sentence with gull/above;  faithfully/weightlessly, and gliding/guide/wire.

The more experienced writer I become, the more I think with juicy words during the first draft.  However, it's not until the revision stage that I truly turn on the juice, searching out the lushest vocabulary with the highest impact and the poetic devices that will make my words sing.

Do you notice juicy words and poetic devices when you read?  Are you conscious about incorporating them when you write?