"I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be truly disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man."

06 January 2011


Spurred on by this article, and in an attempt to fire some writing synapses in my sinus-addled mind, I thought to give a go to one of the oldest of writing advice columns: what not to write, or rather what words not to use while writing.
Here's the rub, though. Everyone has their own personal pet peeves which turn their editor and reader minds against certain words, phrases, and idioms. Some people swoon when reading about characters becoming besotted with another, while others cringe at the word and feel as if some has run over their reading mind with an old mop when seeing that particular word. Still, writers love to critique, and so we continue to pluck away at others' writing with abandon, usually because by picking apart what someone else writes we can (hopefully) also be guided to flaws in our own writing. I write in a style similar to a Victorian novelist who crashed landed in the 2000s to pick up some colourful metaphors before jaunting to the 1920s for a healthy dose of cynicism and returning again to the 1890s just in time to see all the hopefulness of the industrial age crumble into decadence and decay.
This means I can be very wordy, or very succinct. Vulgar (at times) yet creative. Punctuate with nonplussed indifference to rules. Create my own grammar when it suits me, and yet still cling to a few basic rules of writing etiquette as I see fit. Very often hopeful and sarcastic within centimeters of each emotion... and damn do I love me some ellipses. Where does that leave me with words?
I enjoy juicy, crunchy, snappy words with depth and intrigue, but not when they come across as condescending or perambulating manner that drags on without purpose. Yet I love the Victorians, go figure -- except that when the Victorians wrote what we now consider to be high falutin' sentences they were a) not infrequently being paid by the word and b) using language which was generally common to the public. For people who love Hemingway, there's much to be said for short phrases with clear meaning yet unclear symbolism -- and lots of synonyms for water.

So yeah, maybe one of these days I'll get around to doing one of these oh-so-popular, just-look-how-knowledgeable-I-am posts about words that annoy me with over-usage, 'cause yeah, they're out there. However, I'm still too much of a general Word Geek and Writing Geek to deny people the joy of using words which come naturally to them by calling them out as 'weak' or 'overused' or 'pedestrian' or... whatever.
Write with the words you know, the words that strengthen your writing in a way that fits your style. And read. Read. Read. Read. If you continue to do both these things your writing will strengthen with time and experience. Then one day you, too, can engage in a battle of word wits over what the most boring and unnecessary words are... and sit back and watch as today's 'walk' becomes tomorrow's 'meander.'


  1. luv luv luv! : )

    my colloquial words thank you! :)

  2. Thanks, doll!

    I started out all ready to get pet-peevy about words/phrases I don't like and just didn't have it in me to harsh on other people's flava ;)


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