Vocabulary? Can’t I just write how I talk?

[found on time4writing.com]

“Why is a Strong Vocabulary Important?

We use spoken and written words every single day to communicate ideas, thoughts, and emotions to those around us. Sometimes we communicate successfully, and sometimes we’re not quite so successful. “That’s not what I meant!” becomes our mantra (an often repeated word or phrase). However, a good vocabulary can help us say what we mean.

For example, let’s say that you are outside in your yard and see a large black car stop in the road. You can see four tinted windows on one side of the car, and you assume there are four tinted windows on the other side, too. Just then, the driver’s door opens, and a man wearing white gloves steps out. He walks to the back of the car and looks underneath. He shrugs his shoulders, climbs back into the car, and drives away. After you remember to close your mouth, which has been hanging open, you run next door to tell your friend what you saw. What do you say? If you know a couple of key words, you can quickly explain to this person what you saw. Instead of describing the number of windows and the length of the car, you could simply say that you saw a black limousine (a long, luxurious car). Then, instead of describing the man with the white gloves, you could say you saw the chauffeur (someone paid to drive a car or limousine) walk to the back of the car. Knowing these key words can help you quickly and effectively communicate your meaning.

When you’re faced with a writing assignment, a good vocabulary is an indispensable (very important or necessary) tool. If you have several synonyms (words with similar meanings) in your repertoire (“toolbox”), you’ll be able to choose the best word for the job. Avoid vague words like “stuff” or “things” when you write. These words do not give the reader a good sense of your meaning. Also, use strong verbs that give the reader good information.

Here’s an example:

    • POOR: People do a lot of things.
    • BETTER: People perform a lot of tasks.

Work on building your vocabulary so that you can choose the stronger, more descriptive words in your writing.

You may also want to vary your vocabulary depending on your audience. Are you writing for children? Then stick with simpler words. Are you writing for college students? Then pull the more difficult words out of your “toolbox” to avoid talking down to them. It’s important to consider your audience when writing.

You may also find it difficult to choose the best word for a sentence when you’re writing. If you have a strong vocabulary, these choices will be easier!”

For more great tips on writing from Time4Writing, click HERE.

[found on http://www.time4writing.com/writing-resources/vocabulary]

George Orwell Asks Before Writing…Do You?

[found on writingclasses.com]

 “A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:

    1. What am I trying to say?
    2. What words will express it?
    3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
    4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

And he will probably ask himself two more:

    1. Could I put it more shortly?
    2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

One can often be in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase, and one needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:

    1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
    2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
    3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
    4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
    5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
    6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.”   

[found on http://www.writingclasses.com/InformationPages/index.php/PageID/300]**