I came across this video on my Twitter feed this afternoon:
But the thing my friend Jess and I found ourselves talking about after watching this video:
Bloviate. Temerity. Gauche. Or what we would call “SAT Words.”
I had to look them up. And yes, he uses them correctly, so my reaction was, “Well, shit.”
I’m not the kind of writer who uses SAT Words in her writing; at least, not the really far-out variations of vocabulary, the kind the thesaurus gives you as third or fourth options. You know: the ten dollar words.
There was a point–I think maybe in college–when I felt really undereducated, under-read, not as intelligent as the other students in the writing program, particularly when it came to vocabulary. I’m a fairly taciturn person until I get to know someone (and then I don’t shut up). I’m what a teacher once described as “quietly outspoken.” But I often thought that my word choices could be more precise (which is part of what’s fun about vocab–more choices means more chances of a more precise nuance).
But I’ve come to realize that precise word choices doesn’t have to mean overcomplicated word choices. I’m not writing literary fiction; I’m writing contemporary romance, short creepy horror stories, and I’ll probably go back to historical fiction at some point. Fiction writing is about finding the right words to move the story along, to fit the setting and the genre, and especially the characters.
It is not about looking shit up in dictionaries and in the thesaurus.
And maybe this is true of all of us–that we use different words in writing than we do in everyday conversation and speech, depending on who we’re talking to. I know I certainly do.