Just like salt adds flavor to our food, there are certain words that add flavor to our writing. And just like rotten lettuce takes away from the enjoyment we experience while eating a salad, there are certain words that take away from a sentence.
My problem? I’m still trying to figure out what words fit in what category.
I know that any word when used repetitively gets redundant and annoying. It’s surprising how surprised some people get while reading a suspense mystery. I mean, mysteries are supposed to have surprises, right? So why would anyone be surprised by a surprise in a novel where surprises are common?
Ok. Wasn’t that painful to read? Repetitive words obviously fall into the rotten lettuce side of the spectrum.
What about descriptive words though? They’re good, right? Well, it depends. When someone uses cliché expressions all the time it gets old really fast. She let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. Her heart pounding in her ears. It was a dark and stormy night. Her dark eyes flashing.
So yeah, cliched descriptions are out, too.
What about non-clichéd descriptions, though? The chair was the softest, most comfortable thing I had ever sat in; it almost felt as if I were on top of a scoop of whip topping. The path the wind had taken was clearly evident by the toppled spruce trees that looked like they’d been plucked from the ground by a baluchitherium. The day had been full of pricks and burns, it kinda felt like I’d had a flaming porcupine riding around in my pocket.
Alrighty, alrighty, so maybe I’m not coming up with the best non-cliché descriptions, but I think overall descriptive words in moderation fall into the salt category.
What about using large or uncommon words? While I concede that not everyone is a sesquipedalian, I conjure to establish the verifiable and constructive certitude that being in possession of a proliferate vocabulary is beneficial. Just don’t over do it.
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What about you? What are some things you’d add to the list?