Do you have any favourite words? Or are there words or phrases that really grate?
If I hear someone in the media say “robust” one more time I will scream. Another phrase I strongly dislike is “punching above their weight.” It makes my skin crawl.
I’ve been reading a lot recently, both fiction and non-fiction, and I’ve nearly finished a bestselling novel which is structured in an unusual but disjointed manner. I haven’t warmed to the protagonist and I’m not exactly enjoying it, but the concept interests me so I want to see what happens. And I’ve realised that my problem with the book is not the story, but the writing. I just don’t like the words the author uses. Or the way she wields them.
The sounds of words matter. Magenta. Melisma. Luminosity. Vortex. I enjoy elegant sentences, repetition when skilfully used. I recently saw an eerie one woman show* at our local theatre – a retelling of Victorian ghost stories by lesser known female writers – which reminded me of the power of the spoken word. There were few props needed; a chair, candles and spooky lighting created the atmosphere and intimacy between actress and audience. Towards the end, the storyteller spoke of birth and death as simply a reordering, reorganisation of matter. I liked that. And after the stories had stirred our senses, unsettling and disturbing with fear of the unknown – the root of all fear - those words were strangely comforting.
* The show was called Victorian Gothic and is highly recommended! The weblink is here