Words that mean something

Good strong words

Few deliberately read or write the wishy-washy. Though there are many reasons we read and write, few involve wasting time when there is much to learn and experience which will enrich and improve your life.

Something I find myself repeating often in my editing is, “what do you mean by this?” Some words have many meanings, combining certain words can cause confusion. It is not easy to say exactly what you mean and mean exactly what you say. Specificity is important when conveying meaning.

Take for example “he jumped in his little red car and drove off down the road”. Without specificity, our character might be anyone who drives a red car, from Enid Blyton’s Noddy to James Bond. The car might be a red Ferrari or a child’s toy racing car. He may drive like the chauffeur of a VIP or a professional driver on a Grand Prix circuit.

Especially when word count is limited, each word must work hard to earn its place. Try interpreting the above example in as many specific ways as you can. I’ll start.

“The learner barely cleared the door of his new scarlet MG before hitting the starter, kangaroo hopping, stalling, restarting before putting it in first gear and, attempting nonchalance started off again, his face a similar colour to his paint job.”

“Angry at the insult, he stormed off, slammed the door of his Rally Red Corvette, revved the engine before roaring off in a squeal of tyres on bitumen.”

“Carefully closing the door of his fully restored Salsa Red VW Beetle, he fastened his seatbelt, started the motor, checked there was no traffic coming, indicated and pulled away from the curb smoothly, giving a cheerful beep beep goodbye.”

I’d love to hear your interpretation.