Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Words, the writer's tools ...
So I'm feeling a creatively drained. On Sunday after a marathon session I almost finished the story arc of the third book. Now it is time to go back to book one and work on all the little things I have in my To Fix list for each book.
Today at UNI we were teaching semiotics, which is all about meanings and signs/symbols/words. It made me think about the very small differences in word choice that we, as writers, make instinctively all the time. For instance if I chose 'rural', over 'rustic', each time I made a small word choice like this, it would eventually lead to a different over-all feel for the book/story.
Then there are the invented words. We writers of fantasy and SF are always inventing words. I want my invented words to have meaning and not just by a jumble of letters. So what I do is look up the thesaurus for similar words, then take a couple of those words and look up their Old English, Old Norse, Old German and Latin roots. Then I come up with a word that has its roots in those origins, so that, while it is an invented word, it has connotations which the reader will pick up on subconsciously. Or so I hope.
For instance, in my T'En trilogy I had a character called T'Reothe. He was betrothed to the main character. I came to his name by looking at 'Betrothed' and to 'Plight one's Troth'. Betroth comes from Medieval English - trouth/treuth. Troth comes from Medieval English - trowthe and Old English - treowth. All of which mean truth. Maybe no one would ever pick up on it. But to me, his name had meaning and I was comfortable with it, because as a character he held firmly to his beliefs.
Are you as obsessed with the choice of words and invented words as I am?