Thursday, 11 October 2012

When Words Get In The Way (or how not to be Mr Hutchinson)

One thing writers have in common is a love of words. After all, they are our stock in trade. So it would be strange if they didn't hold a certain charm, even fascination. There is something about the sound of the right word, the feel of it in the mouth, the sight of it on the page, that is immensely satisfying. But as with all pleasures it can become an obsession.

Do you enjoy word games like Scrabble? Do you cancel appointments so as not to miss your daily dose of Countdown? Do you sit up late trying to finish the Times crossword? If so, you could be a lexaholic.

Stephen Fry is a famous one and it shows. Robert Robinson was another - remember all that camp delivery on Call My Bluff? The pure joy of words is the greatest spur to a wordsmith, but it can also be their downfall.

Because it's so easy to let your passion get the better of you. Remember, story telling is about communication - it's a two way street, like a conversation. Just as you would bore a listener rigid by spouting great long pompous sentences of obscure and unnecessary words, you lose the reader in much the same way. If you have a propensity to wax lyrical all the more need for critical editing, either from yourself or a sympathetic beta reader.

Otherwise you run the risk of sounding like a pompous bore, as this clip from Fawlty Towers shows:

4 comments:

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

I love words too and I like scrabble and all word games. My favourite though is crosswords...

Lexia said...

Great post and perfect choice of video clip. Brilliant

I love words too. Though as senility sets in ever faster, it becomes difficult to remember them, especially those in long sentences.
My user name on various forums (such as this) is something to do with words.
I shall check it out as soon as I have made this post. 

Sandra Patterson said...

Thanks, guys.

Rosalie Warren said...

Good post - and the funniest Fawlty episode of all...

(if only I could read the Captcha words! :-) Wonder what Basil would have made of that? )