What I Wish I’d Known


I have thought and thought about this post. And I still don’t have an answer to the implied question in the title.

And maybe that’s what I wish I’d known. How often I would spend hours upon non-productive hours trying to decide on a word. Not a chapter or a scene or a protagonist’s name, but a word. Four or five letters that can make the difference between stones and diamonds.

You know, like if Rhett Butler had said “I don’t give a darn.” Or Pollyanna had played the sad game. Or Anne Shirley hadn’t had an “e” added to her name.

Cover print         Okay, I don’t wish I’d known that, but since it’s the first time it’s ever occurred to me, I think I’ll run with it. I think it’s amazing how much difference a word can make. In One More Summer, the book of my own that would be my favorite if I’d admit to it, Grace Elliot had a shrug that explained better than anything else the depths of the wounds to her soul.

When I read The Scarlet Letter in high school, an exercise I recommend to absolutely no one, the teacher mentioned Hawthorne’s heavy usage of the word ignominy and other words that came from it. In truth, I don’t remember much of Hester Prynne’s story, but until this very day, I’ve never used ignominy a single time. It is my intent to never use it again.

In 1971, I asked my husband to marry me. (Old, long, happy story.) He said Yes. Since I’m pretty convinced no one else could live with me—much less live with me for going on 44 years—if he’d said No, I’d probably be living in a senior residence somewhere surrounded by cats.

I’m an echo writer. I often start a post or a story with a thought, spend the middle making my point, and end with a reiteration of the beginning. Since that didn’t work out well on this post, I went back to the beginning and added a word. One word. I wish it for you this week.



What I Wish I’d Known — 8 Comments

  1. Liz,

    I know the feeling. There are times when I feel like I spent more time trying to pick out one word than I did writing the entire scene to begin with. But one well-chosen word can have so much power and deliver far more emotion. So in the end, it’s worth it. :-)

  2. I want to hear the proposal story! For me, the revision process is where I work to find that perfect word or phrase. And that’s where I’m at with the WIP, so this post is particularly timely! Thanks.

  3. Here’s what works for me when that one word escapes me. I write the sentence using a generic word and highlight it. When I go back to read it later, the word I need pops out at me and says ‘hello’. Otherwise, I torment everyone I know until they help me.

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