Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Trend of Terrible Words

There is a message that I need to get out to the world: We are destroying the beauty of written English. I'm not talking about using impact as a verb. I don't care about that. I mean, festoon was a noun for two centuries before it became a verb. I'm pretty happy with a lot of nouns that have become verbs. Language evolves. 

I don't care about business jargon or self-help talk, either. And I won't even get into using literal as figurative. I'm talking about something more insidious.

Let me explain before I identify the problem. Two words, in particular, stick in my craw because I hear them all the time: historical and inspirationalThese two words have nearly replaced historic and inspiring in popular culture, and pop culture is where we get used to using words. Once we grow accustomed to their use in everyday use, the devolution of the written language begins.
Image: Gavin Baker "Captcha" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Naufragio
You may not think these words are too bad or a sign of the decline of English, but they clutter the language with extra letters, sounds, and syllables that writers don't need when they seek clarity.

Is one suffix not enough? Do more syllables make people feel smarter?

I know historical and inspirational are actual words, but epidemical is supposedly a word, too. We never use it because it's an adjective, just like epidemic. So when something becomes widespread

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Getting to Writers' Conferences

My novel, Leave the Frigging Marshmallows, has been in process for a while. Years.
Novel notes. Photo by Robin Israel.
Part of this is because I question myself. Part of it is because I want it to be great. And part is that it is just difficult to find my way through a character-driven novel with multiple complex characters and their individual stories without any real instruction beyond other novels.

I can read all the books on craft in the world, but they never seem to fully apply to my characters and their stories. They often help me expand and enrich my characters more, and I'm grateful for that, but it often complicates things further. Often, books on writing focus on plot and structure and, when I impose such things on my characters, they fight back and story becomes forced. I really want to find a way through this messy thing.

That's the reason I started attending writers' conferences last summer. I had avoided them for a while because I thought of them as pitch sessions and I wasn't ready to pitch anything, but then I started