Friday, October 21, 2011

Word choice in scenes

Guest blogger, Ingrid Sundberg, had a really good article posted on The Parking Lot Confessional blog. Titled “The Right Word,” it addressed the topic of word choice in your manuscript. A few weeks ago, I had a manuscript critiqued at a local conference, and the editor talked about using the right word choice to bring a scene to life.

Sundberg has a couple of examples in her piece and also two exercises that go into more detail. In the first exercise, “Scene Analysis … pick a scene in a book where you (as reader) felt an emotional connection….  Exercise two … Write with Word Lists … A great way to use this technique in your own work is to create word-lists.” Of course, you need to read the entire piece to appreciate why word choice in scenes is critical. According to Sundberg, “a new emotional layer has been added to your work with the touch of a few carefully chosen words.” 

She’s right. 


I love the definition of scenes in the book, Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, by Roy Peter Clark. The author writes, “You don’t build a story or a book of words and sentences and paragraphs—you build it of scenes, one piled on top of the next, each changing something that came before, all of them moving the story inexorably and relentlessly forward.” 

“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.” – Elmore Leonard

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