marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

Loading Your Language

Let us suppose you are trying to obey Mark Twain's sagacious injunction, rule 10 from Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses:

They require that the author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and in their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones.

And you are considering how to do it, knowing you probably can't do it perfectly, but that your story will not have the impact you mean at all if you don't try.  Or how to get your readers to regard something else -- anything else -- in your tale in the proper way so that, say, the smashing of the marvelous statue strikes them as wanton and tragic destruction.

One technique is loaded language.  It can be tricky, because it is quite easy to turn into the same problem as a Meaningful Name:  you get the reader to notice it and all is lost.  Nevertheless, if you refer to the character behind the desk as a bureaucrat, you get a different reaction from clerk.

Or color.  Sometimes red, white, black, etc. is just what you want.  On the other hand, sometimes you want to make it more vivid:  red as blood, white as snow, black as ebony.  On the face of it, those aren't even similes, since they are comparing like, not unlike, things, whatever the red, white, or black thing is.  But it has a slight touch of metaphor to it.  Consider rose red, fire red, ruby red -- all the objects mentioned in fact have a range of colors, including some overlap, but the chief difference is that it carries a whiff of the thing compared to, a touch of metaphor.  Or milk white, pearl white, white like sea foam, diamond white, white as ricotta cheese.

Requires a good eye of the connotations of language and a deft hand to ensure you don't have the readers notice you are guiding them to certain conclusions.  But then, what in writing is easy?
Tags: choosing words, description, metaphor

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