Sunday, 1 December 2013

Female Gothic: words, sounds and storytelling

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

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  1. Sounds like an interesting show - thanks for sharing.
    I've recently completed editing my next novel and was horrified to discover how many times I'd used, 'clearly', 'absolutely', and 'just' - all words I hear myself saying too often!

    1. Hi Deborah - I overuse the word 'that' and am always having to have a cull on this word when I edit! Good luck with your next novel!

  2. 'awesome' - I like awesome people, things, situations - I believe that when you look for 'awesome' you get to live an awesome life.

    1. Hi Gisela - I confess that 'awesome' is not a favourite word of mine but I tend to replace it with 'amazing' which I also overuse. However, I agree with your sentiments about seeking out the positive. Thanks for stopping by!