Thumbing through a recent magazine dedicated to writing, I came across an article that urged writers to “use the right word.” This advice is nothing new. We see “tips for good writing” everywhere, especially when it comes to word usage. For instance, we are told, over and over again, the word VERY is a word to avoid. Just don’t use it. Throw it away.
To be honest I like the little word—very. It has a nice sound, a rhythm, a sweetness. At one time I thought to write a novel and give it the title: VERY, VERY, VERY, just to piss off the word pundits. But no, I didn’t do it. So what can one do?
Well one idea came to mind as I was working on a short story. Do you want to use “very”? Do you want to use a “fancy” word instead of a plain one, like say, “procure” instead of “get”? Well go right ahead. You can do it in dialogue. As a matter of fact I urge you to do so.
Dialogue is your ticket to free expression. You as a writer may not be able to use adverbs or “fancy” words, but your characters can. The young man in your novel who is overwhelmed with everything uses the word “very” overmuch. That’s okay. It’s him. The way he talks defines him. It sets him apart. It makes him different from the professor who uses the word, “prioritize” instead of “rank.” Of course, when you write with a first person narrator, hey, all bets are off. Think of Celie in THE COLOR PURPLE.
The advice to write sparingly is good, but how much fun it is, on occasion, to break the rules.
What about that? How far do you go with your characters? Do they start sentences with “Him and me…”?