Writing as an Extreme Sport eCourse Preview


Rule # 3:

Use Appropriate Language.

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug”. ~Mark Twain

No matter how much we may like certain words, if they don’t communicate our purpose or are not geared to our audience- they won’t work. Language has its niches. For example, ‘buzz’ words have generational and cultural relationships. Use appropriate language that hits home runs for your audience.

“I think it well to remember that, when writing for the newspapers, we are writing for an elderly lady in Hastings who has two cats of which she is passionately fond. Unless our stuff can successfully compete for her interest with those cats, it is no good.”
~Willmott Lewis, in Claud Cockburn (1957). In Time of Trouble

Every writer has a fondness for certain words or expressions. We unconsciously fall back on these in moments of being inarticulate. Sometimes they are called ‘qualifiers”. Think of these words as flags. They are places where we need to re-write to be articulate.
Appropriate language is

- relevant to the audience

- fitting to purpose

- pertinent to perspective

- a form of good timing.

“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” ~Anton Chekhov


- Read your work out loud. Any place you stumble is awkward for your reader.

- Hear your language. Is it appropriate?

- Look for words or phrases that you repeat (qualifiers). Highlight or list them.

- Re-read and understand the context of these words.

- Change the words to say what you mean to communicate.

- Listen to what you have written.

Ask yourself:

- Is the language in line with the purpose?

- Does the language reflect the way I see myself as a writer?

- How will my reader receive the language I have chosen?

- Will this language achieve the my goal?

"A different language is a different vision of life." ~Federico Fellini