0

Writing Hacks: Find Your Voice by Dropping the Thesaurus

Language is a technology. It’s a particularly strange one that’s made of squiggles and sounds and maps of meaning, but like any other technology, it’s hackable. So’s writing.

As we’ve mentioned before, a huge vocabulary and multisyllabic words aren’t required for great writing.

So if that’s true, what do you do when you come up against a cliché. So like, for example, he or she “clenched their fists.”

From an amazing article by Kathy Steinemann

…a Google search for “he clenched his fists” produces over 116,000 results, and “she clenched her fists” yields over 58,500. Try the searches yourself (including quotation marks) to confirm.

So now’s the time you find a thesaurus, right? Nah. That just leads to more problems. And it’s what everyone else does.

Writers often abuse the most common replacement.

“He balled his hands into fists”—27,000 Google results

“She balled her hands into fists”—23,100 Google results

So what do you do? Maybe stop thinking about words, and start thinking about the emotion that’s lurking beneath the cliche.

Clenched fists might be a sign of:

Aggression, anger, anguish, annoyance, antagonism, anxiety, defiance, determination, flight-or-fight response, frustration, hostility, irritation, jealousy, pessimism, rage, stress, stubbornness, uncertainty, worry.

Try to show these emotions. The following list provides a few suggestions. If you imagine how each emotion makes you react, you could replace clenched fists with your own body language or physical responses.

This is the path to your voice: when you encounter a cliché, really sit with what the cliché is trying to express — what it expressed effectively back before it became a cliché and lost its expressive power.

Then when you’re sitting with the feeling or intent behind the cliché, start free writing until you’ve gotten at something that holds a charge.

The answer might not even be fists, it might not even be a phrase. You might discover that to really get across what’s happening in that moment needs a lot more, a lot less, something totally different, or absolutely nothing.

Surprise and move yourself, and you’ll surprise and move the reader!

See previous writing hacks here!


Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Join 8,500+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

CircuitPython – Python on Microcontrollers is here!

Have an amazing project to share? Join the SHOW-AND-TELL every Wednesday night at 7:30pm ET on Google+ Hangouts.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Follow Adafruit on Instagram for top secret new products, behinds the scenes and more https://www.instagram.com/adafruit/


Maker Business — Rethink Robotics closes shop. Long live collaborative robots #makerbusiness

Wearables — Cleaning is key

Electronics — Serial overkill

Biohacking — Biohacking Resources – Books, Talks and Podcasts

Python for Microcontrollers — CircuitPython @ Hackaday SuperCon #ICYMI @circuitpython @micropython @ThePSF #Python

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !



No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.