Some time ago I was listening to the radio and an official from the Coastguard Service was talking about deploying their ‘fixed-wing assets’. It took me a few seconds to realise she meant aircraft.
Specialist language is fine when you are talking to colleagues in your own profession, or when writing for a book – or a magazine – with a specific area of interest, but a novel needs to be more far-reaching than that. As writers we want to reach the widest audience possible.
Someone mentioned the film, ‘Synecdoche, New York’ to me the other day. I’d never heard of it. I’d never heard the word synecdoche either so (as it was such a tantalising word) I decided to look it up – of course.
That’s what we writers and readers do because we want to extend our repertoire of words and understanding.
Language is what we rely on to understand something we are being told. We expect to know what it means.
The only way we can do that is if the giver of the information delivers it clearly.
Your choice of words, the sequence you put them in and the structure of your sentences will set the feel and flavour of your writing as well as making it legible and intelligible.
Write in your own words
One of the tricks about writing is not to be grand. If you try for that memorable phrase or sentence, it won’t come and your writing will appear false and pretentious.
Write as you speak. Write in your own words. Forget the amazingly profound and just write. You will surprise yourself now and again. Sometimes it is the most simply put phrase that has the most effect.
That place we call imagination is a meditative process where we lose ourselves in the world we are creating. It is from that place that words and phrases arise. When you are writing ‘in the zone’ your mind will start making connections between concepts and thoughts almost subconsciously.
It is those subconscious processes that will widen your range of description and put the words on the page that please you. They can almost seem to come from nowhere.
Feed your creativity
Reading helps to feed your imagination and writing helps to exercise and express it. Without either you will not have the language or the words to make something beautiful and memorable.
The word can refer to a non-specific feature, such as lover’s leap (or lovers’ leap or lovers leap – for the apostrophe-minded amongst you), hence it is anywhere that lovers may leap from. It also refers to a name that describes the place (I suppose lovers leap does that too if you know where it is); Northumberland is the ancient territory (land) of those living north of the River Humber.