So we’re nine days into 2013 and I’ve already slacked off on my New Year’s resolutions. This is a record. I usually don’t slack off until well into week three.
To put a positive shine on it, I’m doing some renaming. Instead of New Year’s resolutions I now have New Year’s suggestions. And suggestions, as we all know, are to be pondered but not necessarily acted upon. I can live with that.
I’m feeling so much better about myself! Why didn’t I think of this before?
As a writer, I know that word choice makes all the difference, and not just by virtue of definition. How a word sounds matters too, doesn’t it? A harsh sounding word impacts us differently than a soft sounding word, even if the words share a definition. For instance, if you had the good fortune to be trapped on a deserted island with George Clooney, would you rather osculate or smooch?
Okay, wait. Bad example. Either works if we’re talking George Clooney.
Let’s go with Rowan Atkinson. Osculate or smooch? See, I’d choose smooch, because even though the words mean the same thing, smooch sounds lighthearted and benign. I hear the phrase, “Gimme a smooch!” and think about my old Uncle Sim. But osculate? That sounds like something the director of a porn flick might use, as in, “Yo, Bambi and Big Ben. We need youse guys to do a little more, ya know, osculating.”
All I’m saying, buttercup, is that word choice matters, whether you’re working on self-delusion (i.e. resolution vs. suggestion) or a short story, or even—maybe especially—a letter to your mother-in-law. The perfect word can morph a sentence, or an idea, from good to brilliant. Remember Rhett Butler’s parting shot at Scarlett?
So the next time you’re penning a memo, elucidating your aversion to tripe, or writing an ode to the wonders of George Clooney, remember where you hid your thesaurus. Because in this world of ours, words matter.
See you next time –