On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Vocabulary & Word Choice = Elements of Style

Your vocabulary is one of your main tools of the trade, and how you use it determines your voice and style.

My Berkley editor believes I have a "historical" voice because I write mostly like that in the Heart books. I use older words and longer words (and made up words). She hasn't had the time to read my Summoning books, where I use a looser, more contemporary vocabulary.

And I've found in Heart Fate that I AM using that historical-type voice. Now and then a word comes from my fingertips and I think "well, I'm not talking down to this audience."

The other morning I used "perspicacious." I knew at the time it wasn't quite the word I wanted. I actually wanted to use "sensitive" but you don't call a guy like Tab Holly, an ex-seaman and owner of a fencing and fighting salon "sensitive."

I was reading a J.D. Robb book last night and ran across "astute." Now, I don't know that I ever use "astute" either. For some strange reason (probably because I was a teenage word snob), "perspicacious" comes to my mind sooner than "astute."

In this instance, I like "astute" better. It's the lead up to that tender moment I wrote about and I don't want people reaching for their dictionaries to look up "perspicacious." Furthermore the connotation of astute (and connotation CAN mean different things to different people) seems to me to include "emotionally" sharp. Perspicacious I think of as more "mentally/intellectually/brainy" sharp.

So I went down (working in the dining room on the laptop lately) and changed perspicacious to astute. I hope I keep astute in my personal writing vocabulary. It's a useful word.

May you find all the words you need today. (Hey, I LIKE that blessing, sorta a double entendre of "may you make your wordcount." Or is double entendre only used in sexual innuendo?)



Blogger FeyRhi said...

Speaking as a reader I thank you for your choice to change the word. I already know the meaning of 'astute', it wouldn't pull me out of the story.*G*

As a writer, I love the sound of 'perspicacious'; but then I'm strange enough to enjoy attempting to figure out how that mouthful is pronounced.

8:19 PM  
Blogger fiberfanatic said...

Hm, knew both words, so wouldn't have interrupted the flow for me.

May all the words you find be the right ones!

9:06 AM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

And when I was reading yesterday, I realized that I probably really meant "perceptive" instead of "perspicacious" Urgh. So I may change it yet again.


9:53 AM  

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