Posts tagged ‘online creative writing’

November 9, 2008

Slang Can Save a Story, Just Don’t Go Ballistic With It

A newspaper editor I know once told me about an adventurous photojournalist he worked with who had found himself in a dangerous situation while on assignment in Central America. The photojournalist, a New Yorker, was working on an article about the drug trade and he had hired a translator to help him locate sources for the story. Unfortunately, the photojournalist and the translator were kidnapped by gang members and ordered into the back of a van. The gang had already taken their money and everything of potential value in their wallets. So, being driven to who knows where could only end badly, the photojournalist thought. And so did the translator, who began to converse with his captors.

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September 11, 2008

Choose Your Words With Care and Your Writing Will Improve

The difference between the almost right word and the right word is “the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain turned that phrase 120 years ago and it’s still applicable. In fact, many writers will tell you the hardest part of the job is finding the most appropriate noun or verb for a given sentence. The reason is because we aim to avoid clichés, meaning we’re constantly challenging ourselves to be inventive in ways beyond concocting plots and characters.

Whether you’re a journalist, public relations professional or author of literary fiction, expanding your vocabulary is fundamental to improving the quality of your work. If you believe writing involves craftsmanship then language is the toolbox to accomplishment. As with any field, the practitioners who best know how to use their tools will be able to differentiate themselves. Besides the thesaurus, other reference books that will help you grow as a wordsmith include The Flip Dictionary, Word and Phrase Origins and Roget’s Super Thesaurus. These texts go beyond dictionary definitions, giving you etymological information as well as colloquial phrases in addition to traditional synonyms.

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