71

These terms are very often used to mean magic, and I've never before encountered anybody discussing the ancient greek etymology. You are totally safe using the modern meanings. In general, words often do have multiple meanings, and we understand from the context which meaning you are using: if you were writing a historical text about ancient greek ...


68

I think this is a really interesting question - because if we avoid using advanced vocabulary with children, then when are they supposed to learn it? I think the answer is that it's a matter of quantity and proportion so the reader doesn't lose their flow or end up missing something important if they just keep reading, and also of giving the reader the ...


58

You’re using unequal terms interchangeably. Imagine Alice is Bob’s sister and also does his taxes. The former is a personal relationship and the latter is professional; for most people those belong in distinct hierarchical levels, with family at the top. While referring to Alice, if you kept switching between calling her Bob’s sister or Bob’s accountant, ...


49

There are at least as many problems with "pyromagus": "Pyro-", "necro-" and "-mancy" are Greek, "magus" is Latin. "-mancy" (manteia) is a practice, a magus is a person. Magus is, originally, a Zoroastrian fire worshiper. So "pyromagus" is redundant, and "necromagus" is contradictory. Any clearly invented word will can prompt the reader to ask, "wait a ...


39

Adapt to the culture. If it's a town of demons and the narrator is implied to be well familiarized with them, then you can go with 'tiphoof' and other such expressions, coining new idioms for the culture, replacing common phrases with more suitable counterparts, often playing puns with the expressions. On the other hand, if there is a culture clash, with ...


35

A story like this is about what the MC experiences, and should be told in the MC's voice, but it's also important to consider your readers' experiences as they read, right? This seems like a case where you need to balance the reader's expected knowledge of the subject matter with the MC's. If I told someone a story about what I did at work (and didn't want ...


30

I think Secespitus hits the nail on the head by saying: People will rarely look at the letter of a word means. They know what "tiptoeing" implies and that is all they need to imagine the scene. Imagine being the key word. IMHO, immersion is far more crucial in a story than correctness. The true joy of reading comes when you are so engrossed in a story ...


30

It would look more natural outside of dialog, to me. Unless the character says "snort." "He's really attractive." Megan snorted. She grabbed a napkin and wiped the coffee off the table. "Uh, no."


25

The easiest way to do this is have a character use it, and another character (like yourself, not knowing the word at that age) ask what it means, or look it up, or otherwise figure out what it means. You can even use this as a moment of conflict, or humor. "It's ubiquitous," Angela said. Kevin frowned. "What does that mean?" "It means it's ...


23

I am going to agree with Surtsey here. I do not think single word titles are the prevalent. I still think I can answer the question of what are the benefits of using a single word title. I am also going to focus on "Climb" and not "Superhot", as I think the second is just 2 words. Titles of things are there for the first time impact. You want to hear the ...


21

Even for people who can smell, the sense is rarely precise enough to describe save by way of analogy. Someone particularly interested in cooking or food in general might train themselves to be able to pick out and recognize the specific elements making up a scent, but for the general population, if you're not simply saying directly what something smells of, ...


19

(Assuming I understood your question, and you mean 'sparkling' as in a baby spark) If I were to come across this without any context, I would probably read it as a verb or adjective (sparkling water, sparkling like a firework, etc). However, using 'ling' as a diminutive isn't so rare that it can't be recognized - think fingerling potatoes, 'younglings' in ...


19

One possibility is to not use the adjective: "Select a printer". Another is to use the adjective appropriate to the action: Sometimes you mean "Select a disk", sometimes (like for formatting) you mean "Select the target disk", sometimes (for installing an OS) "Select the desired boot disk", etc. I wouldn't look for just one word. "Preferred" is sometimes ...


19

Don't overthink it; readers will generally go along with whatever terms you want to use, as long as you explain it sufficiently, and as long as they aren't wildly out of whack with their expectations. As a reader, I know that each story may use terms in slightly different ways, or in ways that have different implications for the story you are telling; this ...


17

Precision is not the opposite of simplicity or clarity. As you mentioned, Hemmingway is known for his amazing precision, for spending a long time on single sentences. I read The Old Man and The Sea in high school, but I could easily have read it four years earlier. I would have missed the symbolism, but I would have understood the literal events. The most ...


17

Your demons likely wouldn't be speaking English either. Yet you write your story in English, not because the demons speak English, but because the readers do. A lot of English words stem from something that ties into human history. Fictional worlds don't always have to reinvent their history. In a world where humans never existed, what would you call ...


17

I agree with the previous poster who said that if you want to use the word “snort,” it would probably make more sense as a verb than as part of the dialogue. That said, I think “pfft” might fit the bill. Max asked Jill whether she’d finished the homework. “Pfft. Are you kidding? It’s not due for another week!” She said. Obviously, this works best ...


16

I don't have any writing experience, but I have extensive reading experience as a child 🙂, and I have a 6 year old who loves reading more than chocolate. Don't TRY to be wordy, but: Don't dumb it down. Don't explain. If the word fits the flow of the story, include it. Any kid who loves reading also loves words, and they can infer an astonishing amount ...


16

For many people "friendship" is subsumed into being "siblings" Different people and different cultures will view this differently, but for most people "sibling" and "friend" are are at odds with each other. This doesn't mean siblings cannot be friends or friendly, but that it is a different type of relationship into which friendship is subsumed. My sister ...


14

"-ling" is a valid diminuitive, but in this case your coinage would be directly competing with a common English word, the adjective "sparkling." Given that, I'd argue against use of this unless there are strong reasons for it. There are other English diminuitives, what about "sparklet" instead? In general, the rule is avoid confusion where possible. ...


14

Thanos is a master of rhetoric. Some of the earlier answers hint at this but nobody is really getting to the crux of the issue: Thanos is a powerful and persuasive speaker because he carefully uses rhetoric. This is the art of effective or persuasive writing/speaking, the basic principles of which were identified and defined by Plato and expanded upon by ...


14

As with others, I think your assertion is incorrect. Based on an analysis of the 342 film title given in this list of film releases in 2019, I find that 26% of films have 1 word titles, 32% have 2 word titles, 19% have 3 word titles, 13% have 4 word titles, and the remaining 10% have 5 or more. The longest was 9 words. This shows a strong preference for ...


11

Doing something like this occasionally can be pretty entertaining, but if be careful when inventing new words: too many new words can make your book hard to read. If the people in your world invented certain words because something "unrealistic" is completely normal there than it's fine if the word comes up from time to time. So if your demons are "normal" ...


10

There's a lot to unpack here, at least if someone like me tries to post an answer, because I only half-agree with aims such as those of the Hemingway app. Also, some of what you say brings in additional issues. the app pushes simplicity and the lowest possible reading level. Where I live, an illiterate person is defined as any person who reads below a ...


10

All instructions writers wrestle with these terms. Just remember that instructions should be absolutely clear, without ambiguity. "Preferred" can be ambiguous. Does a "preferred" printer stay that way? Are you referring to a "preferred" printer, or just a printer to use now? Select the printer to use (for whatever you are doing). Avoid "desired" and ...


10

The reason, as you guessed, is marketing. One word that sums up something memorable about a movie is a mental handle, it can appear in far larger type on a billboard, it eats up only 1 second in a 15 second commercial, it is very easy for people to recognize and associate a single word; psychologically that happens faster. If I say "Avatar" you know exactly ...


9

Putting scientific definition aside, "Flower head" works better since it's a personification. The human reader has no trouble associating the upper part of a body with the upper part of a flower. On the contrary, "a flower's heart" is a little harder to imagine. Without further context, I would struggle to understand what you mean, exspecially since I'm ...


9

The following is a VERY naive piece of research. I've downloaded the IMDB titles dataset (available here: https://datasets.imdbws.com/title.basics.tsv.gz), and took the 3rd column - primaryTitle. I then created a histogram of the number of titles containing each count of words. One very probable problem is I'm not taking language into consideration; ...


8

It might be worth pointing out that the hoof of, say, a horse, is essentially a single toe. https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/horse/the-evolution-of-horses/on-your-toes I can't speak for the evolution of demons, so not sure if that helps with the nit-picking, but I wouldn't have a problem with 'tiptoed' if I saw it, whatever hoofed creature was being ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible