A Blunt Nail
Author: Charles Goulet
A writer's main tool is words, but words never express exactly the idea the writer has in mind because words have denotations and connotations. Connotations are what cause the trouble with exact expression as each individual experiences the word relative to acquired knowledge, thus the word has a different mean for each person.
Each reader will interpret what the writer has written due to the fact that his or her life experience is different for the words used. Shakespeare found words so inadequate, he coined his own and added many to the English vocabulary.
For this reason the writer must choose his words with care. Some words are too precise; others are too general. Words that are too exact do not convey the idea any more than do words that are too general. Getting the right word is all important, and that is the reason that most writers revise and edit their word until it almost conveys the idea that they have in mind.
Unfortunately the meanings—the denotation and connotation—change over time. A study of the etymology of almost every word in the English language will reveal this. One example is the word "awful" which at one time meant 'full of awe'. Now it has almost the opposite meaning 'ugly, very bad'.
Choosing the right word is most important if the writer is to convey exactly, or exactly as possible, the idea in mind.
Charles O. Goulet has a BA in history and a BEd in English literature so he writes historical novels, most based on Canadian history.
He may be contacted at:
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