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Use More Expressive Words article : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Use More Expressive Words article

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
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Terry T.A. Rodgers
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Use More Expressive Words article

Postby Terry T.A. Rodgers » Tue Dec 01, 2015 11:42 am


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Re: Use More Expressive Words article

Postby shadowwalker » Tue Dec 01, 2015 11:46 am

Oh...my...God...

I may plan on retiring from all writing forums when these students start joining them...
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Re: Use More Expressive Words article

Postby updog » Tue Dec 01, 2015 1:06 pm

This isn't new. My English teachers taught the same thing back in the 80's, and a new generation of teachers told my daughters the same when their turns came. I suspect it's simply an exercise to get students to be more precise in their wording. Of course these young people will have to relearn everything they thought they knew about creative writing (and life in general) once they get to college, but don't we all.
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Re: Use More Expressive Words article

Postby pls » Tue Dec 01, 2015 4:46 pm

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Re: Use More Expressive Words article

Postby shadowwalker » Wed Dec 02, 2015 2:49 am

English teachers have a lot to answer for...

Just kidding!

Kinda...

:P
"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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Re: Use More Expressive Words article

Postby Terry T.A. Rodgers » Wed Dec 02, 2015 8:22 am


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Re: Use More Expressive Words article

Postby onceuponwednesday » Wed Dec 02, 2015 12:26 pm

The Rule of Three

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Re: Use More Expressive Words article

Postby James A. Ritchie » Wed Dec 02, 2015 2:56 pm

Anyone who tells kids, or adults, or writers, not to use "said" is an idiot, and has no clue whatsoever about the language, or about writing. The entire point of "said" is that it is a dead word, which means readers ignore it, but pay attention to what's around it. Only very bad writers, or those writing for children, use anything other than said. Y0u have to be dumber than a sack of hammers to use any of those words to replace "said".

But this really is old news, and I heard the same nonsense more than forty years ago. Fortunately no one who too the language, or writing, seriously listened. I doubt they will now, either. But this shows why the first thing I was told in college was to forget everything my high school English teachers taught.

Seriously, do these dummies even read? How is it possible to read, and to still think any of this is a good idea? Particularly with "said". Show me one writer who uses anything else, except in very, very rare circumstances, and I'll show you a bad writer who gets blasted by everyone.

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Re: Use More Expressive Words article

Postby Terry T.A. Rodgers » Wed Dec 02, 2015 4:19 pm


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Re: Use More Expressive Words article

Postby Crono91 » Wed Dec 02, 2015 4:30 pm

Mixed feelings on the matter.

I think, as writers, we have to be careful discrediting these teachings. It is similar to a physicist saying how silly it is to make children use the [insert new way teachers are teaching math to elementary and middle schoolers].

These teachers (I'd hope) aren't doing this because their writing is superb and the only thing that needs work is changing said. They are doing this because students fall into a rhythm and stop looking to expand. It's another way to get students to keep thinking and searching for new ways to do things. If some of them go on to be actual writers, they will learn incredibly quick that these rules their teachers implanted in them may work for many things, but does not work for marketable writing.

I think in all my time reading, I've only read one book--the girl who disappeared twice--that never used the word said, and always used some crazy word. And it drove me insane. Made it a very long read. But most writers learn quickly.

But, take the academic world, which is where most of these students will be, learning how to find and remember exact words is very helpful. My friend is a technical type of writer, and he always uses crazy words, whereas I stick to more imagery/metaphorical ways of writing.

---

So as a lesson toward students, this is actually a wonderful thing to teach. I would not go as far as to dock points for using the word said, but young students need to be encouraged to expand. The more they expand, the more they will discover new shades of the world to make their own. Every writer kind of has their go-to words, which is like a signature, but they needed to expand beyond "said" in order to find them.

Yet, if a creative writer in college, or if a published writer is suggesting that these "dead" words should be avoided, then there's an issue. Those tips are not meant for that group of writers. But they are meant for other groups.
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