46

Describe them. There's nothing wrong with mentioning that he is black. However, in that segment, you're missing an opportunity to actually describe them, which will both make for a more interesting read, and illustrate his ethnicity. E.g. "I walked towards the trio. They were engrossed in a spirited conversation; it was as though they'd known each other ...


36

A few points, in no particular order: "A black man" paints a very different picture from "an elderly black gentleman" or "a tall, black-skinned young man". In the first case, the skin colour is the only thing the narrator sees about the man. That's a bit disconcerting if you look at it like that. In the other examples, skin colour is one of many ...


25

Read, read, read, read. The only way to learn words is to ingest them, to feed on them. The only place where to look is books. Read a lot of different authors, styles, genres, ages. The more words and expressions you put in your head, the more you can use them in your writing. Every time I wrote something, I realized I was heavily influenced by the things ...


25

Just say he is an elderly black man! Since the skin covers most of the body, it would be the first thing the narrator notices about them, especially if they consider the fact worthy of remark (e.g. wondering what part of Africa they are from, per Rasdashan's answer or describing the lines on their skin per user49466's). I don't think there's a need to ...


22

The Carnegie Hall method: Practice, practice, practice. You know those Word-A-Day calendars? We joke about them, but they're not bad as a starting point. Each day you pick a word you want to start using more often (from the calendar, the dictionary, or list you create). Spend 10 minutes writing it in a bunch of sentences. Write a little story if you want; ...


22

Here are Shakespeare's sonnets in a text file from Guttenberg.org http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1041/1041.txt Open the file in a text editor and strip away the metadata and footnotes. These are the literal words that he used when writing poetry.


18

I think the answer to your question lies in the very problem you're having. You say you've created a character whose language is so clean it's almost comical, and you yourself feel awkward when you write profanity, so use that to your advantage. Have the MC refuse to use profanity while the other character tease him for it. Then when something goes wrong, ...


18

The trope you are thinking of is called Death in the Limelight. Briefly, an episode or issue that suddenly focuses on a character specifically because they're going to die at the end (or fairly close to the end). Usually this is a relatively minor recurring character, or someone who technically is in the main cast but never had a Backstory or much in the ...


17

How to evaluate repeat words: 1. Not all frequencies are created equal. a, an, the, he said, she said etc ... <- These are fine. They are considered invisible. You can prune them out if you like, but do not need to necessarily. 2. However. Some common words that tend towards becoming frequent, are more problematic. heard, look, thought/think, smile, ...


15

It might be more strange if your character instinctively knows the man is Kenyan without knowing who he is. Perhaps he is wearing a small pin in the shape of the Kenyan flag or talking about Kenya’s performance in the World Cup. You could have something like this I walked towards the trio, who seemed to be having a conversation. They all seemed ...


13

A concordance lists every word used in a work (or across a series of works) alphabetically, so the link Concordance of Shakespeare's complete works from OpenSourceShakespeare will be helpful. Clicking on a word will show you which works it was used in, and clicking on the title of the work will show you the exact quotes. OpenSourceShakespeare also has the ...


10

One method I like to use to remember new words, or at least words I'd like to use more often, is to write them into sentences. So I'll take a word I want to dredge out from the depths of my mind (or a dictionary) and write 10 sentences that use the word in various contexts. It's easier to recall when you use it for yourself, in contexts you've constructed ...


10

Side note: This problem isn't limited to computer jargon. There are many stories where the characters discuss things that all the characters would know or understand but a reader would not necessarily, like science, historical events, or things about their friends. For example, yes, if a character says, "We should use an Ajax call to the cloud server here ...


10

You have an excellent answer from @DPT for what to do with the results. Just a few tips that are Scrivener specific: In the Word Frequency window, you can click on Count to sort them into numerical order. This will help to put all those words like 'I', 'it', 'and', 'she', and so on, to the bottom and allow you to start with the less frequently used words. ...


10

There is nothing wrong with being black, and there is nothing wrong with saying that someone is black. If your character walks to a bench with an eldery black man sitting on it, write that your character walks to a bench with an eldery black man sitting on it. Skin color is like any other descriptor, and it help your readers identify the character if they ...


10

What race were the women and the girl? Why didn't you mention that? Your problem isn't that you're using the term "black." Your problem is that you assume white is the default.


9

I recommend three pillars: 1. Practice 2. Thesaurus 3. Drafting The more you write, the better your writing will become. This means finding the best word, and the best order to put the words in. Thesaurus. Personally I don't think a writer should ever use a thesaurus to find a word you don't already know - that's the sort of use that gives thesaurus use a ...


9

Also, write, write, write. As you write a new word in appropriate context, you are putting it into your working vocabulary. Don't discount a thesaurus. There are some online. You have ideas, and you can articulate your ideas. Let's say you have a character that needs to go to a particular place. You might have a good idea in your mind of what that ...


9

How can I write this kind of language, that I do not talk, not even as part of my internal monologue? This is either a problem or a blessing. If you, like your character, do not use it on a daily basis (not part of your verbal repertoire) then it will sound stilted, awkward, and just... well, weird. And that's the way it should sound coming from someone (...


8

Be true to your characters. If the characters swear, do so. If they don't, don't. Be true to the moment, if the scene requires swearing, then swear. Don't confuse your preferences or personality for your characters. if you swear a lot, or not at all, that shouldn't reflect on how your characters speak. One of the most common mistakes in even ...


8

You've got filtering and wordiness plaguing you. "he asked himself" is a filter, generally recommended to be avoided. It puts a 'layer' between me being Will and me being the reader. (You want me to be Will. Don't remind me that I am not.) A filter is any construction that breaks my sense of being the protagonist. "She listened to the music" <- If we'...


8

Often you can eliminate "he saw" and "he thought" and "he knew" and "he remembered" by simply stating what he saw, thought, knew, and remembered. Those words are examples of the filters DPT warned about. In some cases, removing a filter word requires minor re-sequencing. For example, from: Nothing much was going on outside, he thought as he looked out ...


8

A common failure in writing I notice is the over- and under-detailing of people, places, things, and events. If your character is in a high-stress action-scene situation where every second counts, they'll be paying attention to the generally noticeable things such as the area they are in, how many people and of what groups (us vs. them, red vs. blue, etc.) ...


7

Read a lot of archaic and extremely rare books, take notes, and make a point of using your list as a thesaurus. Practice using your list by writing paragraphs or stories as exercises just to get used to where the words fit.


7

I'm going to try the practice-practice-practice answer, but what has been helping me up until now is editing. Go ahead and write the first draft with whatever words come to mind. Don't let searching for the right phrase interrupt your creative flow. As you re-read your draft, take note of where you stumble over verbose phrasing, you haven't conveyed the ...


7

Ah, I also had this sort of problem, back when I first started writing. It's only natural, especially if English is not your native language. Thankfully, it's not so hard to get past this, after realizing what you should be doing. After writing a paragraph, read it to yourself and look out for these little eyesores: Try to eliminate all the pronouns he/she/...


7

After you're done reading the sonnets, you can check your newly learned words against this reference of Common Words & Phrases in Shakespeare's World: https://learn.lexiconic.net/shakewords.htm A note of caution. As with any pre-compiled work that is not the direct result of your efforts, I would still recommend a bit of skepticism when approaching ...


7

In the scenario you've given, only a pedantic character would use Latin. Ordinary people such as medical staff and doctors would say "statuses" or refer to the patients' "medical state" and "health condition." For details, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_state. Speakers who use British Engish also use "status" as a plural noun. For example: "The ...


6

There's a big difference between using a fancier word when a simpler one will do (which can be unnecessarily pretentious, something that commenters have exhorted you to avoid), and using a more precise word that more accurately captures the nuances of what you are trying to say. Based on your edit and your replies, I suspect the words you wish you were using ...


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