Friday, August 6, 2010

Words – Our Best Friends Forever

This post is only about words. Words interest, intrigue and fascinate us. Words  are not just a writer’s best friends, they can also be his/her worst enemies. Afterall  what are  our manuscripts: but  a  collection of words that tell a story, that acquaint readers with characters and their journeys. Just like we do with our real friends, these literary friends too should  be treated with  love and care, shown respect and not taken for granted. Else the journey from friend to foe will be a swift one.

Words take our labour of love and hardwork ( manuscripts) to the altar of publishing,  or, get them deposited  at the bottom of the slush pile. God has given us writers a gift with words. Our writing careers depends on how we have used these words, or, abused them.

As we writers live in the world of words ; we are lost without our daily dose of words, don’t you all think  that we should ensure that our words are the best possible words that a  reader comes in contact with. The time we spend in nurturing our friendships should be directed to our words too.

This relationship at times breezes through, sometimes it gets complicated: it’s when we fall in love with our words and refuse  to be parted from them that problems arise. Though we don’t consciously pick fights with our friends, we just drift apart due to different interests, clash of values,  or, lack of time. The same policy can be adopted with words; words that do not enhance our story, or, slow it down, have to go. It should be an amicable separation, not a bitter parting; because we will definitely meet and need these words again for the next manuscript.

As a  student of literature,  I was told to learn  few new words every week. Not just learn them, but also their meaning and use them in sentences. “There is nothing like building your vocabulary,” our English teacher often urged us. Somewhere along the way I dropped that habit and got stuck inside the intricate web of  character arcs, plot twists, synopsis and hooks.

But the other day while explaining to my students I realized the importance of that particular exercise which I had long forgotten. It’s never too late to start building, or, in our cases adding to our vocabulary.

Have you added to your treasure trove  of words lately? Which new word have you  learnt recently? Lets all share from our treasure chest of words.


  1. Two words whose acquaintance I recently made are:

    Sanative - having the power to cure or heal: Curative, Restorative.


    Hoo-ey - which means nonsense

  2. My word is Peccavi - an acknowledgement of sin.

    Thanks for this lovely post. Am eager to read what everyone will write.

  3. One word I never used before is subterfuge. That's the only one I can think of right now!

  4. Love the title of this post! Am drawing a blank on my newest words. I think it is time for bed... If anything remarkable hits me, I'll let you know!
    Blessings for your weekend,

  5. I used genuflexion in my novel and stumped my personal editor!

  6. Rachna are you sure you can't see through to my core. I think you can!! Smiles great writing! If I were in India I'd definitely be a student of yours.
    This article rings true for me, as I get attached to words friends and characters. I think most of us do, even if we don't admit it. Yes it's true sometimes I find myself looking at life as if it were plotted without my knowledge, as if it were something I need to figure out, but in truth it is just a natural change. That makes writing abit harder when change takes place, when the characters are expected to stay the same.

    This piece of writing has redirected some of my thinking and put things in perspective on a positive angle. smiles
    I hope you go to the SCBWI conference next year. Missed you this year!

  7. Excellent post, Rachna. Words, can't live with 'em (was, have, had, were), can't live without 'em (funnily).

    I bet your students are loving you. Just like we do. :)

  8. I receive a new word in my email box every day from along with 2-3 excerpts where the word appears in literature or journalism.

    I can't think of any of them off the top of my head, but here's an old word-friend I'd like to share: discombobulate, a word I use frequently because it fits and it's fun to say!

  9. Great post, Rachna! One of the things I kept hearing at the LA Conference was that a writer should read a thousand words for every word they write. And that words are the building materials for the story, just as clay is for a sculpture and a color palette is for a painting. It's so easy to forget. You can take words for granted. And yet, without collecting words, you find yourself without the "right" word just when you need it.

  10. Wow I love that Elizabeth!

  11. Working at it! When I read, I scribble down new words and try to use them until they stick.

  12. Love words. Love collecting them. Great post

  13. Great post, Rachna. I don't know if I have continued to build my vocaublary like this, but I do love learning new words. I remember learning the word "silhouette" as a child. I loved how it sounded - like poetry and the meaning at the time was complex. I still love that word. LOL

  14. Ooh, I too, love words. Especially the emotionally-charged and loaded ones. We can intensify our work by our word choices and which ones we use and those we don't:

    The clouds hung heavily on the mountain tops.

    The pregnant clouds clung to the jagged peaks.

    There was a time when I went stir-crazy with words. I loved words like laggard, quixotic, nefarious, repugnant, plethora . . . (go here for more interesting words!:

    My brain actually buzzed and snapped with the vivid coloring of important words until many of my readers thought me to be stuffy. Now I've cut down on my favorite words and feel as if I've submissively accepted what publishers want.

    What do you think?