Monday, October 18, 2010

The Perfect Word

I'm busy! I'll still post, loyal readers, but I'm not sure I'll have enough time for more word nerdery until the weekend. Sigh...

Because words are fun. I've said that and I'm sure I'll say it again. A word can have a million different meanings, all of them not related to each other. It's been said that there are no synonyms, only the perfect word, and that is true. Often times while writing, I'll get stuck because I can't think of the right word, the word that means what I want it to and connotes the feeling I want. There's a big difference between "He looked at her" and "He stared at her." The first is open, general. "He" is simply watching whatever "she" is doing." The second is more direct. He isn't just casually observing. He is watching her. Without knowing the location or the situation, we can see that she is, for some reason, of particular interest to him.

If I get stuck, I think of the most general word for what I want to happen, then go to the thesaurus. I usually need to look up definitions, too, until I find the one that clicks in my brain.

But there are times when I can't find the word because it doesn't exist. Making up words is okay--sparingly, of course. You don't want a new language in your novel. In my book, I only have one: sludged. As you can see, it is simply a verbizing (check my last post for more on that particular madeup word) of sludge, which means "a deposit of ooze" or "sediment." It isn't an entirely new word or even completely unheard of (desludging is a word), but it isn't an everyday English word. However, I felt ooze and seep weren't strong enough for the scene. I needed sludged. Maybe someone will tell me it needs to be gone and maybe I'll listen, but for now, it's my perfect word.

Also: Right and right->

More for the list.


  1. It is the duty of poets to continue inventing the language.

  2. If you want to make up your own words, I say go for it. Don't even worry about it. Shakespeare is called a genius for inventing words to make something rhyme.

  3. Hey I left you something on my blog today. :)

  4. Oh, I'll never stop making up words. I just have to make sure I use them well.


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