If you caught my response to last week’s prompt (write 500 words of dialogue), you’ll know the problem with me is that I think I’m funny. The problem with my writing is, well—it’s lots of things. For this week, let’s focus on just one: diction. Diction is simply the way the words you choose in your writing contribute to the way the reader perceives or interacts with it. A formal diction implies you have authority or are to be taken seriously. The slang speech of a character suggests they come from a certain place or have a certain set of values. In a way, diction is about biases.
Having decided on the appropriate diction, the struggle is consistency. When John Gardner states, “Diction problems are usually symptomatic of defects in the character or education of the writer,” or, “…Latinate language where simple Anglo-Saxon would be preferable (“surveyed the area” for “looked around”),” I break out into a cold sweat. If every single word chosen is of consequence how can I possibly get it right?
Plus, can you believe he said diction problems are signs of character defects? Just… wow.
For this week’s prompt carefully maintain your chosen diction in a piece of writing.
I recently became aware of the death of an old friend, so I don’t want to make any promises I can’t keep. Therefore, instead of setting a word goal, I want to come back next week with something I’m confident in, even if it’s only a short paragraph.
For choosing your diction level, or better understanding diction in general, I recommend this article.
Thanks everyone, see you next week!