Thursday, October 29, 2009

Make Sure Pretentious Words Don't Turn Off Your Readers

Yesterday I read a story that made me want to run to the dictionary several times. I didn't but the strange, long words kept pulling me out of the story.

Granted, the pretentious words were only in the hero's dialogue so that was obviously done on purpose as part of his characterization.

Still, there were so many pretentious words I didn't like him and wondered why the heroine would be interested in such a snooty, boring man.

Yet, I love good dialogue. I love to spice it up with different speech patterns and words for each character.

When I began writing, however, I went overboard with dialogue myself. Too many strange words or saying is worse than too little. If the reader has to go to the dictionary chances are they won't come back. The chances increase each time they must do so. If I'd been reading a novel instead of a very short story, I wouldn't have finished. As it was I was tempted not to.

We walk a tight line writing. We want our dialogue (and everything else) to sing in harmony.
Be mindful of too many pretentious words (or silly words or dialect).

Recent posts you might like to read:

Why Writers Should Be Like Zombies

Ghost Hunting at a Haunted Hotel

Welcome to the Spookiest Month of the Year (+ don't burn your Ouija Board!)

People Don't Fall Out of Trees - Without Reason 

I'm Part of a Tribe 

Big Brother Is Watching You - This Means You BLOGGERS!

Are You Writing Me Into Your Book?

Dont Give Up Too Early

Must Write Must Write Must Write!!!

You'll also want to see what Amarinda Jones, Anika Hamilton, Anny Cook,
Barbara Huffert, Brynn Paulin, Bronwyn Green, Dakota Rebel, Kelly Kirch,
Molly Daniels, Sandra Cox, Regina Carlysle, and Cindy Spencer Pape
are up to, so make sure to visit them also. :)


Unknown said...

I agree. If I'm using the dictionary too many times, I'll chuck the book at the wall and forget about it.

Unknown said...

In that 1000 word story there were at least 10 really really strange words.

Stephanie said...

I have many poet friends and many times they stick in words that I have no clue what they are...they're pretty and they sound nice when they're reading......but sometimes they make me feel kinda stupid!! I'm all for beautiful writing in longer works....but there's a line. I don;t want m y reader to have to stop...I want them so engaged in the book that they don't want to put it down even for a second.

I was editing one of my pieces and wanted a new word for ivory. It just sounded too i pull up and did a thesaurus search. One of the words was nacreous. It looked pretty and sounded pretty....I said it aloud and hubby said "Why would you use a word like that?" Nuff said.....

Molly Daniels said...

I read a story the other day, which had at least 3 'high dollar college words', as my spouse would say. Fortunately, it was easy to figure out their meanings, from they context in which they were used. But yeah, it was slightly distracting at first.

Lori L. Clark Art said...

You know something else that bothers me about writers... when they pick a name for one of their characters and I don't know how to pronounce it. Like Gillian. Is it pronounced like Gilligan from the island, or Jillian. :) That little detail will bug me from start to finish of a book.

Website Content and Copy: Ashley Ladd, 2008.|Blog Design by JudithShakes Designs.
Graphics hosted by Flickr.