The Synonym Junkie Rides Again!

Hello, wizards and witches. In today’s installment of “How to Dismantle a Bridge,” I discuss my obsession with synonyms. You can easily find examples of this in my short stories, poetry, novels, novellas, and what have you. No one “walks” in my writing, at least for the most part. They’re free to saunter, fly, jump, leap, skate, mosey, schlep, slide, sidle, tiptoe, crawl, traipse, amble, kneel, run, race, stride, ambulate, or whatever else I happen to conjure up at the moment, but walk? Too boring. Same thing for “says.” I prefer my characters to yell, scream, whisper, scat, hymn, sermonize, pray, praise, admonish, warn, belch, summon, beg, plead, shout, stammer, stutter, spit, call, whistle, sing, orate, mention, slur, murmur, mumble, sigh, sough, curse, cuss, cry, sob, vocalize, rap, double speak, or whatever else I happen to conjure up at the moment. Simply “saying” something is too plain, uninteresting, unimaginative and lazy.

This colorful literary fascination doesn’t stop with those two words. For instance, I try not to have “dogs,” “birds,” “flowers,” “trees,” “insects,” “fish,” or regular “colors” in my work. For dogs, I prefer pitbulls, Pekingese, Alsatians, dingoes, Lhasa Apsos, Dobermans, etc. For birds, they can be swallows, Peregrine falcons, scarlet ibises, barn owls, ospreys, woodpeckers, orioles, warblers, coots, etc. Flowers should be gladioli, anemones, irises, hyacinths, hydrangeas, peonies, dahlias, etc. Trees can be date palms, oaks, cedars, birches, redwood, pine, mahogany, etc. For insects, I’ve used grasshoppers, beetles, butterflies, ants, wasps, etc. As a side note, concerning a lot of these and other animals, I sometimes prefer compound titles. Why have just an ant when it could be a fire ant. Longhorn beetles, ladybugs, stag beetles, click beetles, etc., get my attention. Why have fish when you can have mackerel, guppies, pikes, sunnies, cods, anglers, salmon, steelheads, and so on. And then there’s my favorite category for synonyms – color. Sometimes I have no choice but to use blue, green, red, orange, etc in my writing. Typically, though, I prefer emerald, crimson, azure, coral, roseate, tourmaline, lemon, lime, lemon-lime, khaki, gold, navy, royal, sable, ebony, etc. I can go on and on about these things and add other categories like “cats,” “fruits,” “cars,” “music” “reptiles” and their umpteenth variations, but you get the message. Color, color, color. That’s me. Hopefully it makes my writing interesting.

 

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