P is for Precision

Dear 8B,

Some words are vague, broad and general. We use them when we speak, because they are easy to pluck from our memories and cast out into everyday conversation. After all, when you are speaking, speed is essential. Your listeners would prefer not to wait while you consult your inner thesaurus.

Here are some words that fit into this category: awesome, wonderful, amazing, terrific, fantastic, great. All of these words are useful fillers during brief interactions with acquaintances or hasty conversations about the weekend.

When you are writing, however, you should aim to choose your wording more carefully. This doesn’t mean that everything you write must be poetic, flowery or elaborate. Nevertheless, at least some of your sentences should captivate your readers, penetrate their consciousness, pierce their indifference or touch their souls.

My friend, Mrs McQueen, once told me that every quilt she makes must have a colour that “pops” – a colour that is eye-catching, distinctive or especially vivid. Any piece of writing should likewise include some precise, original and striking words. Some of your words should also “pop”!

When you are writing your “J is for Journey” piece, therefore, try to include some words that you have agonised over, not just settled on at the last minute for want of something better. For instance, if you are describing a person who has influenced you or to whom you are deeply grateful, such as your mother or your father, avoid vague statements like this:

My mother is a great person. I like her a lot.

Write something instead that brings the individual qualities of your mother to life. Refer, for instance, to her actions, to her warmth, humour, kindness and unending toil on your behalf. Write something more like this:

My mother has always taught me the love of living things. Whenever she encounters a lonely child, a sick animal or even a wilting plant, she does her utmost to care for each one. While she is kind-hearted and gentle, she is also spirited and fiercely protective. As the central figure in my life story, she seems to know intuitively how to help me when I’m low, how to guide me when I’m lost and how to counsel me when I confide in her.

That was my mother.

Kind regards,

Ms Green

Essential Task

Choose your most memorable slide or page so far, the one with the most powerful, effective or moving words, and show it to me. Then add it as a comment to this post.

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