Tag Archives: vocabulary

Vocabulary for Science Fiction or Fantasy Novels

In science fiction and fantasy, there is normally a cornerstone culture, central to the story, that is malevolent. It is oppressive of its citizenry, setting the stage for the rise of a hero, an avenger of the people.

There are two words to describe such a culture:

  • cacotopia
  • dystopia

Both words define a world that is the opposite of Utopia, or paradise: a world of deprivation, horror and exploitation. Usually the people are enslaved, if not physically, then through economics or some psychological method. Or earth changes, like  global coastal events caused by meteor strikes or the aftermath of world wars, have disrupted normal society and destroyed convenience systems, such as the electrical grid or banking. Whatever the cause, the new world order is a system that grinds those under its bonds to grist.

Now that your imagination is twisting, turning, leaping and bounding with images, get writing!

My Goal Regarding You

Not long ago, I visited http://idlelore.com/2012/09/10/stories-need-to-mean-something/. While there, I read a paragraph that resonated with me.

“It isn’t about just saying something interesting, or telling a story, it’s about involving the reader in some way. Not necessarily breaking the fourth wall, but in just speaking of something in a way that is universal—an emotional reaction to a situation; a common, every day event that we’ve all experienced; something personal or intimate. But make it real, make it hit home.”

On this blog, I have often said my writing aspiration is humble: write simple stories that others will enjoy reading and  buy.

Often, I spend hours writing, editing, re-writing on a story of less than 1,000 words. My husband marvels at the time I expend, scratching his head, wondering what takes so long. He doesn’t understand that I am distilling. I am struggling to find the right words to make it easy for my reader to “see” the environment or situation as the character sees it. I am crafting a connection, using words, between the reader and the character. I wrestle with how to hook the reader’s emotions so that the reader cares about what happens. Time will tell whether I am succeeding.

Likewise, if you are an aspiring author, then I urge you to give some thought to the premise of involving your reader in your tale. Ask yourself what techniques you use, what effort you make,  to integrate your reader into your story.

What To Do with Vocabulary

Recently, one of the local writers group members read one of my sudden fiction pieces.  He highlighted the word “obscure” and suggested I use the word “hide” in its place. He had reasons for his suggested word change.

For one thing, he felt the word was too elevated for the genre. For another, he felt many readers wouldn’t know the word. It wasn’t a conversational word, he said.

I argued to keep the word. I felt the meaning of the word obscure more aptly described what was happening in the story. To “hide” something implies intent. One can “obscure” something without intending to hide it. In the story, a face is obscured, not purposefully hidden.

His comments about usage raised points to consider.

Is there language that is suitable or unsuitable for a specific genre? Sudden fiction may be considered “low brow” compared to the novel, or even the 3,000 word short story.  Obviously, that opinion is subject to debate.

How does one balance vocabulary usage with one’s readership?

Some argue that today’s society needs the stimulation of mental challenge. Others say that today’s society doesn’t have time to stop and look up words every few minutes when reading.

As a writer, I thanked my friend for his input. His remarks were helpful.

I haven’t settled on an answer to the questions his remarks generated. I’d love to hear what you think about using big words in short, short stories.


Normally, I don’t share personal e-mails. However, this message from a member of the local writers group warrants sharing.

Dear All,

Thought you’d be interested in increasing your vocabulary–and getting a few chuckles.
Mom, Oma, Karel
Here is the definition: of “paraprosdokian”:

“A figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence  or phrase is surprising or unexpected;
frequently used in a humorous situation.”
“Where there’s a will, I want to be in it,” is an example of a paraprosdokian. My version: Where there’s a will, there’s someone to contest it.”
Ok, so now enjoy!

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not beating everyone over the head with that fact.
. Sunflower oil is made from sunflowers. Peanut oil is made from peanuts. Baby oil is…

Standing Akimbo

A special thank you to NC Coot of http://thenecessarycruelty.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/a-murder/ for my vocabulary word of the day — akimbo.

Being female, I should know this word innately, as I am genetically predisposed to standing akimbo. What woman do you know who doesn’t assume the position at least once a day? It is the customary pose when a woman supervises the activity of another, usually a member of her household, often male.

If one is unfamiliar with the stance God formed by His own hand when Eve was shaped from Adam’s rib, then Wikipedia will give one enlightenment — as it does on all matters of substance.

Akimbo is a human body position in which the hands are on the hips and the elbows are bowed outward, or bent or bowed in a more general sense[citation needed].

 In spanish, “arms akimbo” can be adequately translated as “brazos en jarra”, which means “arms like a jar”.

Just to prove my point about natural selection affecting my body stance, I will illustrate. In the midst of writing this, my two terriers wanted to go outside. I turned on the outdoor light and stood at the door, while the boys searched for spots in need of watering. I caught my reflection in the glass. Sure enough. I was standing akimbo.

How would the boys get the job outdoors done if I didn’t supervise them, using the stance passed down to me from my forebears? I am female. If I am supervising, I stand akimbo.