Obstacle #1: Words, feedback and languages

I might or might not be starting a “series” based on varying obstacles we face while writing. I don’t want to make a promise in case I break it, but I’ll try to update at least a few of these.

If you’re a writer, and most us have to be at some point, you know the pain of picking the “right” word. Should I use ‘accumulate,’ ‘gather,’ ‘procure,’ or ‘acquire?’ Which one sounds better? Which meaning is closest to what I intend to say or portray?

Fortunately and unfortunately, the answer(s) lies with us, the writers! We might ask (and/or plead) for feedback, but the ultimate decision is ours alone. That’s not to say never ask for feedback, because we need it, don’t we? (Props to you if you don’t, but I do.) Isn’t that why we ended up here, on WordPress? 😉  I’m guilty of asking friends to read something, get their feedback and then realize their point of view and agree to make changes when I feel they need to happen.

It’s quite a fine line between listening to your audience’s feedback and believing in your intuition and vision. (Somebody please tell me this gets better the more you write…) Where do you draw the line? It’s not without reason writers get told to “kill your babies.” We’re biased, even after multiple revisions one specific sentence can still sound perfect and it couldn’t possibly get any better. Or couldn’t it?

Now, say you create something awesome and currently non-existent, but you lack the words for it. Do you…

  • name it with already existing words?
  • take a word and modify it slightly?
  • make up your own new words?
  • look for it in another language and use or modify that?

Tolkien invented Elvish, and Marc Okrand designed Klingon. While I’d love to do that, it probably requires more work than I can put in right now. It’s not uncommon to use less-known languages and pretend it’s something entirely different, although perhaps that’s easier in films than writing. For instance, in Star Wars: A New Hope, the language Greedo speaks to Han Solo is actually a simplified version of Quechua. I remember getting a kick out of that in Linguistics. Just like “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” is a perfectly grammatically correct sentence. Oh, syntax class…

Work in progress feedback

In the meantime, for my short story, I find myself blending words — which I guess is the same as creating? I know two and a half languages, after all, so why not use them? I’ve come up with a rather simple method: look up the same word(s) in different languages and rearrange some syllables until I’m satisfied with a few results. It is rather time consuming, but I feel like it’ll be a great help for the story’s setting.

Interested? Stay tuned, I’ll probably start posting more things under “Work in progress” and asking for feedback. =) In the meantime, let me know what you do when you write! Thanks for dropping by!

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