Just Call It Freaking “Green” Already

PhotobucketTherese here. I’m especially happy to present today’s guest. Keith Cronin is not only a nearly published author and prolific, witty and wise commenter here at Writer Unboxed, he is also the winning bidder of the Red Cross auction package for a post here at the blog. Keith’s fiction has appeared in Carve Magazine, Amarillo Bay, The Scruffy Dog Review, Zinos, and a University of Phoenix management course.

His debut novel, ME AGAIN, will be released in September 2011 from Five Star/Gale.

To say Keith is an interesting guy would be an understatement. He literally named Water for Elephants (yes, the NYT’s bestseller by Sara Gruen), and is a professional rock drummer who’s recorded with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, and Pat Travers. He apparently also plays the ukulele for ducks and squirrels. Oh, and he writes corporate speeches as well. I have a feeling you’ll enjoy this post as much as I do. Welcome, Keith!

Just Call It Freaking “Green” Already

First I want to thank Therese and Kathleen, as well as Holly Tucker and Beth Dunn from Writers for the Red Cross, who raised more than $30,000 for the Red Cross with this amazing online event. Their efforts remind us how important it is to occasionally shift our focus from the relentless pursuit of our own goals, and look at the bigger world around us and the opportunities we have to make it a better place.

A new set of rules

A few months ago, I raised some eyebrows here at Writer Unboxed with a comment I made in response to one of Anna Elliott’s blog posts, offering my unsolicited and not terribly serious Top Ten Rules of Writing.

I’ll be the first to admit my rules are a sort of poor man’s version of the pithy and clever ten rules Elmore Leonard prescribed a decade ago. Leonard’s rules are classic, and worthy of further study and exploration. My own rules, maybe not so much. But I stand steadfastly by my first one, the “rule” I hold most dear:

Never say verdant.

Why the anti-verdancy?

My problem with verdant is that it’s a “writerly word.” I mean, how often do you actually hear somebody say verdant in everyday conversation? No, the V-word is something people use almost exclusively in writing – particularly when it’s supposed to be Serious Writing.

Unfortunately it’s a common tendency for aspiring writers to develop an almost desperate need to be taken seriously. So they thumb furiously through their thesauruses (or is it thesauri?), looking for words that might make their writing seem More Serious. And that’s when bad things start to happen:

  • A big nose becomes “aquiline.”
  • A prominent chin becomes a “lantern jaw.”
  • A really good story becomes a “cracking good yarn.”
  • And your front lawn goes from simply being green to being “verdant.”

Gag me. Just call it freaking green already.

Some tough love from a word-lover

This isn’t about some puritanical quest to be “plainspoken.” I absolutely love words, from plain to fancy; from “cow” to “callipygian.” When I read John Fowles, I have to keep a dictionary nearby, but I always find the experience enriching, and I’m floored by how incredibly precise his word choices are. I relish the clever wordplay that P.G. Wodehouse, Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett indulge in with such effortless grace. And I savor the rich use of language in the works of William Faulkner, Jon Clinch, Annie Proulx, and many others whose SAT verbal scores no doubt eclipse my own.

My problem with verdant and the other words or phrases I’ve singled out is that they usually don’t ring true when I read them. They feel pretentious, as if they’ve been inserted by somebody who felt obligated to find a word less pedestrian than “green.” What I’m trying to express was summed up far better and more succinctly by Elmore Leonard:

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

 

Sounding like writing – that’s what it comes down to. To me, a man in a verdant cap with an aquiline nose telling a cracking good yarn while stroking his lantern jaw with his hand… well, it just sounds like writing. So I’d rewrite it.

It’s a voice thing

So how do Fowles and Faulkner and Clinch (oh my!) get away with it? Simple. The words they choose stay true to the voice they are using. Even as I scramble for my dictionary in the midst of a densely worded paragraph of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, the spell John Fowles has woven remains unbroken, because those amazing and sometimes unfamiliar words flow so smoothly from his pen (or typewriter, or however the hell he wrote) that they don’t pull me out of the story. Those words clearly reflect the author’s distinctive vocabulary and way of thinking, so they never become speed bumps for me when reading them.

But hey, we’re all different. Although I can’t say the word with a straight face, maybe verdant really is part of your voice. If so, get down with your verdant self, and spread the V-love. But if verdant is not a word you’d actually say to somebody when describing her lawn, her pool table, or her inexperience, do me a favor. Just say green.

The Verdant Conspiracy: soon to be a major novel from Dan Brown

I know I’m not necessarily in the majority with my stand on the V-word. In fact, in the Backspace forum, a wonderful online writers community where I spend entirely too much time, numerous authors have conspired to intentionally insert instances of verdant into their own novels – just to annoy me. Authors who have joined this Evil League of the Vehemently Verdant include Sara Gruen, Jon Clinch, A.S. King, Karen Dionne, M.J. Pearson, Maggie Dana, Jenny Gardiner, Elizabeth Letts, Harry Hunsicker, and probably a few others I’ve forgotten.

All right, so they’ve got me outnumbered. But I try not to let it bug me. I just assume they are all ver– I mean green with envy, jealous that I have found a cause to believe in. Meanwhile, they remain emotionally adrift, with no literary compass as powerful as my anti-verdancy to guide them – the poor bastards. (Incidentally, the fact that the authors named above have collectively sold approximately 17 bazillion books should in no way suggest their opinions are more valid than my own. I mean, who are you going to believe: me, or some snooty best-selling author?)

A call to arms: what other words shall we banish?

Okay, I’ve harangued you long enough. So now I throw this out there to the Great Minds of the WU Readership: What are some other “writerly words” that cause your noses (aquiline and otherwise) to wrinkle with distaste? Please submit them below, so that we may all strike them from our thesauruses (or is it thesauri?) with great vengeance! Thanks for reading, and remember: Only you can prevent verdancy.

Thanks for a great post, Keith! Readers, you can learn more about Keith at his website, and by following him on Facebook. Look for another post by Keith in September, when he’ll return to kick off his debut novel, ME AGAIN. Write on!

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About Keith Cronin

Author of the novels ME AGAIN, published by Five Star/Gale; and TONY PARTLY CLOUDY (published under his pen name Nick Rollins), Keith Cronin is a corporate speechwriter and professional rock drummer who has performed and recorded with artists including Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, and Pat Travers. Keith's fiction has appeared in Carve Magazine, Amarillo Bay, The Scruffy Dog Review, Zinos, and a University of Phoenix management course. A native of South Florida, Keith spends his free time serenading local ducks and squirrels with his ukulele.

Comments

  1. says

    SO TRUE. (And dammit, why didn’t I think to cram an instance of “verdant” into The Kitchen Daughter for the sake of annoying you?)

    A common criticism of writers just starting out is that their stuff “sounds overwritten”, and I think a lot of that has to do with word choice. Sometimes, less really is more. My early writing has insanely long sentences and an awkward formality. I got over it, and my writing got better.

    Cheers, Keith! Great post.

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  2. says

    any and all chuckling should be banished from fiction right now. Unless your character is supposed to be skin-shrinkingly patronising and sleazy. (i.e. you might not want your Regency hero to chuckle at your heroine when he’s making the moves. Just saying.)

    It’s not so much a “writerly” thing, but I think it is lazy writing.

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  3. says

    Great post, and so true! The word I’d like to see banished for all time is “mustachioed.” I’m not sure that word has ever been said aloud, but it pops up in descriptions everywhere.

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  4. Jeanne Kisacky says

    I grew up in a family that used verdant (as well as green) and many other ‘five-dollar’ words in everyday conversation. [For anyone who knows Mark Helprin’s book, A Winter’s Tale, it was like growing up in the Lake of the Coheeries.] So to me, it’s not about which words get used, it’s about whether or not the person who is using them would normally use them. Most attempts to go beyond the existing bounds of a personal lexicon are destined to ring hollow. That goes for the authorial voice and for the voices of individual characters that the author is channeling.
    In the end, my mother’s words always follow me — “use the five-dollar words for clarity or emphasis, dear, not to make an impression.”
    Don’t ban words, ban their misuse. :-)

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  5. says

    Thanks for starting my morning with a laugh! :D Love the “Evil League of the Vehemently Verdant.” They would be, what, ELVVes?

    And I agree, using a fancy version of a word without thinking why you’re using it opens you up as mockbait. Now that you’ve called out verdant, all I can think of is: “Across the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field…”

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  6. says

    Oh, very apt! I recently got a comment on my Facebook page from a fan who wondered why, in my recent novels, I did not use as many long words as I did in my earlier books. I replied that it wasn’t deliberate – just part of learning to write better.

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  7. says

    Ha! Thanks for the laughs with morning coffee.

    I am a word whore and love my thesaurus, but I realize it’s a problem. Can I keep “foliage” or does that have to go? I love foliage.

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    • Carla says

      Very entertaining discussion. Erika- do keep foliage! But then I’m a botanist. The situation may be even worse in science writing, where it seems that surely there must be extra credit for $25 words… and long sentences… with extra (technical) adjectives. But as many have pointed out, experience helps. So even though we are measuring foliar nitrogen or foliar chlorophyll, it sometimes pays just to say “leaves” instead of foliage.

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  8. says

    Jeanne, I love you.

    I was raised by a grandmother who said (verbatim), “People who swore habitually lacked the mental faculties to summon an alternative phrase.”

    We bandied about the dinner table polysyllabic words as we would badminton birdies. Walk, stroll, perambulate, hasten…. each word gives a different connotation; thus it behooves us to use the most accurate one in any given situation.

    For what it’s worth, I love language so much that my everyday discussions are peppered with both the $25 words and ‘plain speaking’ in equal measure. It’s like wearing a thrift store tee shirt with designer jeans.

    Speaking to the point of the post: we must write to our voice. Our readers will be drawn to that and those who aren’t, won’t. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

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  9. says

    Oh that’s too funny. Those words should perhaps be reserved for a pretentious character or a moment of sarcasm. I love reading words I’m not familiar with, but they certainly must fit with the established voice, and “verdant” really sounds like an odd word to casually drop in. I can’t recall ever reading it in place of “green” but maybe I just glossed over it.

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  10. says

    My favorite part of this post (because we were supposed to pick a favorite, right?) is the capitalization of Serious Writing because the writers who believe there’s non-serious writing that are the ones searching for words of distinction simply for the sake of having written them.

    Shall we also do away with run-on sentences?

    I plugged words into some of my Chicago Tribune essays for a friend. It was fun way to nod.

    I think you should write an epic fantasy novel called Verdancia. That should cure the lot of us.

    You rock, Keith. (And you write well too.)

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  11. says

    That’s it! I’m joining the “Annoy Keith Cronin by Using Verdant” Club. Actually, I’m probably already in it, but in my defense I write about aristocrats in the early Victorian period so hey, a smidgeon of pretentiousness is probably in order. But I’m also a staunch defender of all words – nothing rattles me more than the notion that some words should be avoided. OK, maybe some should be, but I’ve heard of publishers that actually come up with lists of banned words. Huh? I believe even “was” can have a certain power in the right place. But you’re right, you’ve got to think about your characters and things they would and wouldn’t say, or think. It really is all about usage.

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  12. Pamela Toler says

    I want to join the Backspace Verdant Conspiracy, but first I need to write a book where someone has a yard. Or at least goes to the park.

    Funny, as always, Keith.

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  13. says

    Laughing! Love this! (over from WU!) Congrats on your novel & the Red Cross win!

    Dang, now I want to insert “Verdant” somewhere in the book I’m writing now, just to be a part of such an elite group of pain in your assers! :-D

    I can’t think of a particular word – oh, unless it is “Akimbo” – I just hate “akimbo” and I don’t know why!

    Second to that is words I call “business letter cliche words” that always bump me in fiction but I don’t like to hear or read anywhere any time: “at the end of the day” ugh …. “on a daily basis” ugh …. Most importantly (and also because it is supposed to be most important). (I hope none of these were up there and I either forgot or blocked them out – ungh!)

    I’ll stop here before people scour my stuff and find all kind of riff raff words!

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  14. says

    I submit ‘shibboleth’ as a favorite writerly word ‘o the day. Have you ever heard anyone say shibboleth to another human being? I haven’t. Of course, I did work for a man who, when impressing me with the need to turn a profit would say, ‘This is not an eleemosynary institution.’ Point taken.

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    • says

      There’s actually a great episode of The West Wing where the word ‘shibboleth’ is spoken repeatedly.

      It’s a key component of the story, but you’re right: until I saw that episode, I’d never heard (nor read) the word before.

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  15. says

    Amen, Keith. There’s nothing worse than coming across a too-big word in an otherwise good book; I often end up picturing the author using a thesaurus while writing, which ruins my reading flow!

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  16. says

    Lol! Great post full of humor and wisdom. I used to be a member of the Evil League of Vehement Verdancy, but I relinquished my membership after college, and I’ve been much happier and just as successful (if not more so) since.

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  17. says

    I love this post. I love Keith.
    Funny report from the field: A few weeks ago, in a high school senior AP English class, I was asked why I used “junior high language” while my themes are more “older high school.”
    (This question was asked of a book which actually used difficult vocabulary words as part of the plot.)
    I asked the questioner, “What is junior high language? And? The? Only the small words?” and then I quoted Kurt Vonnegut on the use of large words when small ones could do a better job.

    But it made me wonder. Are kids still growing up thinking that bigger words are better? Smarter? Or was this an isolated incident?

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  18. says

    Thanks for the laugh this morning. I don’t think I’ve used the word verdant so I guess I’m safe. I agree, if you’re using something to make yourself look better rather than drive the story, that’s a problem.

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  19. says

    Ah, I can’t say I’m particularly opposed to verdant, but I do know how it is to stumble on a word that just feels…. WRONG! I like what you said about it being the authors voice. It has to flow. It has to sound like it belongs. I always tell myself, if I have to TRY to make the word fit into the sentence, then I probably shouldn’t be using it!

    Thanks for the post!

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  20. says

    I love this post! LOL. And I am soooo putting the word “Verdant” in my next story. It seems that it sells a lot of books judging by the above authors who are out there to annoy you. LOL.

    Thanks for the tip. :0)

    Lyn
    xoxo

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  21. says

    Completely agree — “writerly” words do little but come across as pretentious, and no one wants to be in that camp! I love language, too, and pride myself on finding words that mean exactly what I want, but I’ve also been teased for my “big words” that no one understands. A coworker jokes that he leaves Google up to define the random stuff that comes out of my mouth during the day.

    I take that as a compliment, but I’m pretty sure other people want to tape my mouth shut.

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  22. says

    Verdant, you say? The only place I can clearly recall reading that particular word in print — where it fit, and beautifully — is the 23rd Psalm in Holy Scripture. I just don’t think my own writerly voice is BIG enough to carry lofty passages peppered with big ticket words quite like that. I’m definitely more of a freeking green sort of writer.

    Love this post, Keith.

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  23. says

    This is not good news for someone who’s been accused – more than once – of swallowing a dictionary. But I’ll get over it. I will square this un-lantered jaw and somehow proceed. ;)

    Awesome post, Keith. Wishing you all the best in your debut.

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  24. says

    I, too, grew up in a house where vocabulary was used properly, not to impress…it’s all about efficiency, right? Which word says what you mean, the best way, for the person, world, etc. Thank you for spelling it out in the greenest way possible.
    I hate the word “squall,” which should never be uttered or written unless there is just nothing else. Just say storm. Sounds better, everybody gets it. A storm is a storm.

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  25. anne gallagher says

    I actually do use verdant in my everyday speech and in my books when it is appropriate. Call me snooty, but when the grass is so deep and full and lush, that’s when I use verdant.

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  26. Caroline says

    Nice post, Keith. I have never used verdant before, but am now tempted to insert it into my WIP.

    One word I hate is “egregious”. Just use “grave” or “bad”! I propose that egregious should only be allowed in legal texts or to illustrate that a character is a pompous lawyer.

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  27. says

    I can’t think of a word right now but I really enjoyed this article. And speaking of voice and conviction: I don’t think anyone else could have written so persuasively on the topic. Waiting for your novel!

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  28. says

    Love this! Great quote about making writing not sound like it’s written. When I read I want to be thinking about the story, not about the author’s vocabulary. So when I write, I make sure my ego stays out of the picture (and if it doesn’t, I edit it out later!).

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  29. Jeffrey Russell says

    Occam’s Razor is a principle in science which suggests starting with the simplest possible explanation of events or processes, then “trade some simplicity for increased explanatory power.” That’s the way I look at writing in general, and descriptions specifically.

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  30. Jessica Messinger says

    “Impacted” UGH! Impacted should be used only when referring to wisdom teeth that need to be surgically removed. How about “had an impact on” or “had a negative influence on?”

    And why do poor graduate students, archeologists, and single women always have an abundance of chipped mugs and chintz furniture (that they inevitably found on a local street curb)?

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  31. says

    Thanks for all the great comments!

    And as if my day weren’t already going nicely, I’ve suddenly become inspired to write a new story! I think it’s a surefire hit – check this out:

    A mustachioed man cannot resist chuckling as he journeys across a frozen tundra devoid of any verdant foliage, but becomes pedantic – hell, downright maudlin – when his plans are impacted by an egregious squall, forcing him to run, arms akimbo, back across that darned tundra.

    Man, I don’t know where I get such awesome ideas. What can I say? – it’s a gift.

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  32. says

    Super post for a rainy day in New York.
    A no-verdant sign, along with “if it sounds like writing, rewrite it” is now posted on my computer.
    Thanks Keith.

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  33. says

    Gotta admit… “verdant is the new black” turns an overused phrase into something a little more interesting. Simple is better and people think you’re working too hard or showing off if you use a bunch of verdily words willy nilly :)

    Being born deaf and not hearing conversations around me put me a little behind my peers in vocabulary. My parents sent me to a tutor for a few years. Hated it, but it paid off. Thanks to reading, my vocabulary is up to speed now. I think the whole thing helped me be a better writer because I learned common, conversational words not verdant-like words — which works in the nonfiction and business writing I do.

    Now if I want to do a novel… that’d be a disparate narrative :)

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  34. says

    Definitely a great way to start the day – humor from Keith Cronin! I read through all the comments and have to agree that there are other words which irritate me even more than “verdant” bothers you, Keith…like “akimbo” and “chuckle”. As you (or someone else) said – there are words that are used by real people and I doubt it’s any of those…including “verdant”.
    Patti

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  35. says

    I can take verdant if it’s in Austen or somesuch. The thing I really hate is tired reviewer language, reviewerese, the chief culprits being “resonates” and “limbs.” There’s a third but I had wine while watching the Mets last night.

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  36. says

    Please ban “surreptitious”. That one always pulls me out of the story, even though it’s a perfectly legit word. No one I know actually ever SAYS it, yet it surreptitiously appears in prose all the time. Drives me mad.

    ;)

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  37. says

    So how do you feel about it really Keith? LOL
    So what if I said emerald would that be bad too???
    I do find that when I run across some words in books I read it stops me short. Especially when I have no idea what it means!

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  38. says

    This was fabulous! I totally get pulled out of stories if words are used that cause me to think, “They would NEVER have used that word!” Especially in dialogue. I can be a little more lenient in narrative. Thanks for the great laugh this morning!

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  39. says

    Hi! I’m speaking from the fantasy writing corner over here. Please, people, no more names with multiple “X’s”. Xexier, Axxom, etc. Also, please refrain from giving you giving your cities names containing the syllable “Val.” Valuryia, Atlaval, etc.

    Trying waaaay to hard. Such fantasy-ish writing makes me want to hurl, and is honestly why I stick to the really big names (Rowling, King, Pullman, etc). The ones who create settings that are amazingly magical, but somehow don’t feel like fantasy worlds.

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  40. says

    I’ll just add one of my favorite quotes:
    “Successful writers learn at last what they should learn at first–to be intelligently simple.” Josh Billings
    ; )

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  41. Evalyn says

    So, it’s necessary to stop using certain words because they are .. what? Made up? Not in common useage? Someone may not be using them exactly correctly? Great. Soon, then, our language will be dead, we will have a choice of the three words that everyone agrees on, to express our ideas, and never again will I have to consider the linguistic difference between “done” and “finished”.

    No thanks, sounds like we could use more verdant use of language, not less.

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  42. says

    I think I’m with Evalyn on this. Verdant exists as a word because someone needed it. Verdure is also a word with specific usage. Perhaps both words suit a more formal age than our own, but they should not be outlawed in the proper setting.

    Context rules.

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    • says

      Methinks some people must be skimming this post, rather than actually reading it. :)

      The main point I was trying to make with this tongue-in-cheek rant was that some words clearly violate the overall voice of a piece of writing. To illustrate this, I tried to point out some common examples, but also made numerous allowances for when such words are not only appropriate, but flat-out necessary for capturing the voice of either the author or a particular character.

      I’ll say it again: I love words. All kinds of words. And while my blog is ostensibly about words, it’s really about voice. And I maintain that some words don’t fit some voices.

      Verdant doesn’t fit mine. But callipygian does! :)

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  43. says

    *How I love bucolic perlieus in crepuscular light.*

    But seriously, there are reasons some words have fallen out of usage. They don’t sound like the thing they describe, or there are better alternatives.

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  44. Carlye Knight says

    This post had me laughing (or should I say chuckling?). And I, too, feel the need to join the Vehemently Verdant even though I don’t use the word myself. I’ll find a sentence and cram it in!

    As for words I’d like to see banned (or at least strictly rationed to the point of scarcity), can we get rid of any and all corporate speak like “proactive”? And anything that smacks of psychobabble.

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  45. says

    I love this post. Someone told me once, “Stop trying to sound like an author and start sounding like a person already!” This changed my writing forever.

    To answer the question about some of my least favorite words…I think one is pedestrian (as a descriptor, not a noun). I think sometimes our writing needs to be a little more “pedestrian” and a little less errr…”verdant”. ;)

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  46. says

    Just ask Stephenie Meyer. She found about a thousand ways to describe the same old things in different words and managed to make a fool of herself. I think her computer is hardwired not to let her use adjectives more than once. This can be dificult if she is constantly describing the characters, even when we already know what they look like.

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  47. says

    Darn tootin’ Keith. I prefer to write fiction in a conversational voice, using a narrator when it’s appropriate, but maintaining a tone that sounds like someone is telling a story. Fiction should provide some level of enjoyment to the reader. So make it sing. Make it talk. But don’ t let it just lie there and try to sound smart. Uugh.

    Non-fiction is another story entirely. And so it doesn’t deserve to be discussed here. But if you meet me over there, behind the mulberry bush by the barn, I’ll be happy to whisper sweet nothings about technical writing, educational writing, and good ol’ business writing, too. But don’t tell anyone. As far as anyone knows, it’s just us fiction writers here on this Internet thingy.

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  48. says

    Oh, this whole deal used to be my playground. I distinctly remember being at school, writing a history essay (paper) and asking my classmates to suggest a ‘posh’ alternative for a word that was already perfectly suitable and perfectly true to the tone of the essay. Seriously, I was willing to insert someone else’s word, someone else’s voice into my own paper.

    But I guess I was a lot more verdant back then. I’ve come a long way since, thank goodness.

    Caroline–I was going to submit ‘egregious’ too! The pretentious over-use of it on Tv Tropes has become a meme in it’s own right. (We can keep ‘meme’, right?)

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  49. says

    Funny you should embark upon this rant against verdant. A neighbor of mine used the word just last night to describe the neighborhood landscape. And he wasn’t using a five-dollar word in a five and dime conversation. He was speaking the literal, if not literary, truth.

    We are going on our tenth, eleventh, twelfth? day of rain here in Michigan. The skies are grey (still grey, damn it, after six months of winter!) But, oh the greens. The grass grows an inch a day. Boughs and branches are laden with a lottery of leaves. Every evergreen is tipped with newborn needles. It’s not green outside; it’s verdant. Saying the word is to roll around in the truth: despite persistent 50 degree temps and misty skies devoid of any hint of blue, we winter weary folks are edging toward summer. Finally. Incrementally. Verdantly.

    Sorry, Keith. Leave me my verdant. But you can have closure.

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  50. says

    @Jeanne,
    Yes yes yes!
    I also come from a family of SAT word users. Some characters should speak with big words, others not so much. When writers go for too plain, I get turned off. Ditto for those who go too flowery. The ones who can walk the line are the ones whose books I buy over and over… I always appreciate an author who can describe something in a new way, but still sound believable.

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  51. says

    Love the quote:
    “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

    On the other hand, having grown up in an academic family (both parents have PhDs) it *was* normal to hear those 5-dollar words bandied around! I had trouble keeping up (as evidenced by the lowest SAT scores in the family!) so when I was in high school, my parents presented me with several “Improve your Vocabulary” books. Consequently, I feel encumbered with the inclination to use words like “verdant” or something like that… and I do now love words, go figure!

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  52. says

    I love this post! And the comments, especially Keith’s when he took everyone’s words for a “new book.”

    I’ll agree with most, verdant included, but I’d have to keep emerald. After living in Ireland for almost three years, there just isn’t any other word to describe the green in the spring. Verdant never came to mind, just an emerald glow that softened in about May.

    For me, cerulean is the word to avoid. I don’t even know what color blue it is. But cerulean sky and eyes keep popping up in my mother’s romance novels. I think category romance writers have their computers programmed, too.

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  53. says

    My mother calls the words that pulls you from a conversation or story “cornucopia” words after hearing someone use that word in such a way that no one could listen to what he was saying because they were giggling too hard.

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  54. says

    Mine is “portal.” God forbid it comes right before “of her thighs.”

    I could make book throwing an olympic sport with that one!

    Great post, Keith. Now I have to go put verdant in my WIP – just in case it’s published.

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  55. says

    I have to jump on the crazy color band wagon with “chartreuse.” I barely know how to spell it, much less what it is. I keep seeing hero’s describe the heroine’s clothing and accessories with this color. Hello??

    If any man would actually know this color and use it in a sentence, I’m a chartreuse flowerpot. I’m just sayin’…

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  56. says

    I agree with Camille Noe. Many times we come across these kind of words and eventually the total reading gets stuck. At times if the reading is interesting then I search meaning of those words just to complete the reading. Anyways its a good post.

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  57. says

    Coincidence alarm! I just launched a novel called Freaking Green on Kickstarter. One of the characters, a pretentious, clueless drama teacher who gives the main character grief, is named Mrs. (not Ms.) Verdant.
    Love your post.

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  58. says

    This helped so much… I feel that people who use words such as “verdant”, etc. are trying to make me feel inferior to them. I’ve lived by this rule since the dawn of my writing, and it makes me smile to see that someone else actually gets it.
    Along with the list of words too elaborate:

    Ornate (I’m sorry, but when the heck am I going to use this?!)
    Deafening (I have never in my life heard anyone say ‘deafening’ in their speech, and since this word is usually used in writing to describe silence, I am confused by its very existence.)

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