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Using Precise Language in Writing

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Ragan Schmidt

on 8 January 2013

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Transcript of Using Precise Language in Writing

Precise Language - Precise words are specific and not vague and ineffective
- Examples -
nice, awful, big, OK

- "She was nice" is vague.

- "She understands different points of view" is specific. -Instead of telling your reader directly what you want them to know,
you show them what you mean in a vivid example. Examples:
- She was a carefree girl.

- She shrugged and skipped along.

- He was scared.

- He grit his teeth and clenched his eyes. 3
- "He was awfully big" is vague.

- "My father measured six foot five and weighed 275 pounds."

- "The job was OK."

- "The job was in my field of competence, but its salary was inadequate and its requirements did not challenge me." Your turn: - I was so mad.

- The movie was exciting. Readers want a picture -something to see, not just a paragraph to read. A picture made out of words. That's what makes a pro out of an amateur. An amateur writer tells a story. A pro shows the story, creates a picture to look at instead of just words to read. A good author writes with a camera, not with a pen.
The amateur writes: "Bill was nervous."
The pro writes: "Bill sat in a dentist's waiting room, peeling the skin at the edge of his thumb, until the raw, red flesh began to show. Biting the torn cuticle, he ripped it away, and sucked at the warm sweetness of his own blood." Snow Paragraph 1. In groups, make a list of all of the vague words.

2. Re-write the paragraph using more precise, descriptive language and varying the sentences. This sentence has five words. This is five words too. Five word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It's like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And soemtimes when I am certain the reader is rested I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of drums, the crash of the symbols, and sounds that say listen to this, it is important. Snow

I like snow. Seeing the sight of snow makes me happy. It is so pretty. It looks like a white blanket has been placed on earth. Snow also means no school. That makes me happy, too. My friends and I can play all day. We can have snowball fights. We can build forts. We can make an igloo. We can have snow cream. There are lots of things to do when it snows. Redundancy - A sentence can get too wordy and confusing if it says the same thing twice. 1. An island is surrounded on all sides by water.
2. In the future to come, everyone will own a computer.
3. Raul wanted to return again to the house where he was born.
4. Mrs. Sanchez got the money she needed from teh ATM machine.
5. What is your personal opinion about this school?
6. This machine will only fit in a box that is square in shape.
7. Matthew is a person who likes to play basketball.
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