V is for Verbomania

Give me words over people any day! Words have the power to stir imaginations to implausible heights, in the right order they can create heroes, crumble empires, and ruin men. I shouldn’t have to tell you this, as writers you know their potential; you know that finding the perfect word for something can be an all consuming task that has the power to drive you insane.

During first drafts you shouldn’t put yourself through hell trying to find the ‘perfect’ word for every sentence in the book, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a bit of fun. Go wild and try things you wouldn’t normally do. Throw words together that wouldn’t normally mesh well and see what happens, use a different voice to see if you can spice up that dull scene, try alliteration or tautograms, try mixing in a few slang words that you’d normally sneer at if you heard them used in public.

Just play! And have fun, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself.

Take this wonderful example, extracted from the film V for Vendetta:

Evey: Who are you?

V: Who? Who is but the form following the function of what and what I am is a man in a mask.

Evey: Well I can see that.

V: Of course you can, I’m not questioning your powers of observation, I’m merely remarking upon the paradox of asking a masked man who he is.

Evey: Oh, right.

V: But on this most auspicious of nights, permit me then, in lieu of the more commonplace soubriquet, to suggest the character of this dramatis persona. Voila! In view humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the “vox populi” now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin, van guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous.

Verily this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honour to meet you and you may call me V.

Evey: Are you like a crazy person?

V: I’m quite sure they will say so.

Wow…just, wow. You see how much fun you can have just by violently flinging words around? Embrace your inner penmonkey and try something new.

“But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.”
– George Gordon Byron
“A great many people think that polysyllables are a sign of intelligence.”
– Barbara Walters
“If language is as inextricably tied up with consciousness as it seems to be, then the continuing diminishment of our inclination to use it to express in letters the times in which we live could mean that an element of human consciousness itself is on the verge of disappearing.”
– Anonymous
“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”
– Thomas Jefferson
“Words are the voice of the heart.”
– Confucius


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    • Liz Brownlee on April 25, 2012 at 23:35
    • Reply

    It would certainly be nice if more people could use words efficiently. Or – fewer words.

    1. There are a lot of people that seem to assume more words = better writing…bleargh.

  1. I love how you have used an example from V for Vendetta. And how now, next time I watch it, I know what he is saying as he meets Evey, as he speaks so fast!

    Words are fun, and I must learn to play with them more myself.

  2. Your post made me smile. I love V for Vendetta, Alan Moore is a genius. Am also loving your blog, keep up the good work.

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