Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The craft of rewriting-Technical Flaws-Vocabulary-Weak Forms-Weak Nouns
By OFW chief editor:
Carlos J Cortes And Renée Miller
Published: April 08, 2013
Precise nouns enhance our writing, because they provide the reader with much more than the dictionary meaning. People, places, and things have distinct names in most cases, so we can use those to add description without the clutter of adverbs. For example:
Weak: He gave her a bouquet of brightly colored flowers for their anniversary.
Precise: He gave her a rainbow of daisies for their anniversary.
Weak: John gazed at the plane they’d chartered for him.
Precise: John gazed at the crop-duster they’d chartered for him.
Weak: Popping a candy in her mouth, June smiled.
Precise: Popping a gumdrop in her mouth, June smiled.
The precise nouns in these examples give a visual image for the reader, and might also hint at time of year. Certain flowers for example, are almost impossible to find in colder months. A bouquet of roses implies a larger amount of money spent than a bouquet of tulips. In the second example, we don’t get an idea of what the plane looks like without going into a long description. “Crop duster” gives more of a visual. It also makes the reader wonder why on earth they’d charter such a plane for this man. Perhaps he works for a company with tight purse strings, or maybe he’s in a rural area where the plane he’s been given is all that’s available.
We can read through our manuscript and upgrade weak nouns like “anger,” “hate,” “body,” “death,” “end,” “face,” “girl,” “head,” “kiss,” “life,” “love,” “man,” “time,” “way,” “woman,” and “boy,” replacing them with precise nouns that show a clear image.
Renee Miller & Carlos Cortes
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