vicki hinze, spin, loose language and the exact word, writing







Vicki Hinze



Years ago, spin became a polite way of saying someone had disclosed something in its best possible light.  A few years later, spin became a synonym for saying someone had exaggerated the truth.  Today, spin is another word for lie.  The matter being spinned might or might not have even seeds of truth.


While others might have the luxury of not noticing such things, words and how they’re used is critically important to writers.  Actually, I can’t think of anyone who interacts with or communicates with anyone else having the luxury of loose language.  Wars start in such ways.  Divorces arises in such ways.  Communication is key in all relationships—including the relationships with the story between the characters, and between the writer and the reader.


There is a difference between spin and loose language.  Spin is intentional deception; sleight of hand, if you will.  Loose language might be intentional, but its use can also be as the result of incidental, inexact word choice.  No intent to deceive, just flawed choices that don’t accurately depict the author’s intentions.


Now in dialogue, characters often use inexact language, and if writers want their work to emulate real life, then some characters will engage in inexact language for the sake of realism.  They might be misunderstood, misguide or be misguided by it, but the writer typically cues reader that this inexact language is an interpretive challenge.


Occasionally, the writer will use inexact language accidentally, and the result can be humorous (when no humor was intended or is appropriate) or tragic (when tragedy simply doesn’t fit the narrative) or even baffling.  It happens.  We’re human.


Which is but one reason that getting a fresh pair of eyes to look at the work after the writer’s done is always a great idea.  If that isn’t possible, then set the work aside until you forget the minor details in the work, and then return to it with your own writer’s eyes being fresh.


Why is that significantly important?  When a writer creates, s/he sees images in his/her mind that s/he translates into words on the page.  When s/he rereads the work, s/he sees those same images.  The memory harkens us back to that same mental place in during create-mode.  So the writer doesn’t see what’s actually on the page.  S/he sees the remembered images that were seen when the work was created.  Fresh eyes allow us to see what is actually written on the page.  What’s actually said. The two can be poles apart.


If the language is loose and inexact, if what we said isn’t what we meant, or it creates the wrong visual image in the reader’s mind, we’ll catch it then.


Spin has its place.  It’s a wonderful feature in the washing machine.  In its current state of usage, it doesn’t belong in our work or lives.  Loose language, however, does have a valid place in our work.  It can be extremely telling and helpful in characterization.  The key for writers is to use loose language sparingly and deliberately, not accidentally or while unaware.


Most writers love words.  They’ll read a passage and be moved by it to the point of tears or laughter.  Reread it over and again because its rhythm touches something inside.  Maybe it’s lyrical, almost musical.  Maybe it reveals a deep-seated truth. It moves us emotionally.


Those are the types of reasons that make words and word choices so important to writers.  It’s why a writer will sit for an hour staring at a sentence seeking just the right word.  It’s why writers typically own more than one Thesaursus.  And considering words are the vehicle to tap into emotions, and emotions are the means through which writers and readers connect in stories, the exact word is important.


In short, nix spin, use loose language artfully and deliberately, and go the extra mile to find the exact right word.  Effort?  Yes.  But effort that makes your story shine for readers.





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© 2014, Vicki Hinze. Hinze is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest release is Down and Dead in Dixie. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s online community: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. www.vickihinze.com.










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