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100

I've found that the main key to unfamiliar words -- and this applies to jargon in technical writing as much as it does to foreign or made-up words in fiction -- is density. The example in the XKCD comic is irritating because it can't get through a single sentence without three new words. The situation is very different if three unfamiliar words are ...


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 ...


69

Start with a word ending in 'ing'. e.g. Opening the door, he stepped into the dark. Chasing a ball he thought he'd lost, the dog ran through the rain-swept streets. Start with a preposition (so a prepositional phrase). e.g. At the time of the incident she was in London. Through the rain the ball was difficult to see. Start with an adverb. e.g. Yesterday, the ...


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 ...


50

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 ...


43

asvarans, vaspahrs, sardars and ostandars. I struggled with this for a different reason, I didn't want to invoke medieval Europe titles either, because little else in my story was like that, I didn't want to set up reader expectations of knightly chivalry that would not hold in the story. My Solution: Go Modern. I figure you are writing a Persian story in ...


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 ...


36

It's never good style to depart from standard usage without a good reason. It just makes things harder to read and understand. In your example, the meaning is clear, but there's nothing about it that makes it preferable to the more standard "ebony hair." There could be many possible "good reasons" to invert word order. With that said, the fact that you ...


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 ...


32

It's ultimately up to you, but you don't want your ancient Persia overridden by knights. You may as well make them wear full plate armor instead of describing whatever garment was in use in that age for the sake of simplicity, but at the same time you'de be losing something valuable. It's true that it will be difficult for the reader to familiarize with a ...


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."


29

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 ...


28

Since you have a real-world justification, why not use that same justification in your fictional setting? If you want to make it a thing, have a character say "aluminum" and the other characters can eyeroll or correct as per their personalities. You could also have your infodump characters be from an international organization, and thereby set the standard ...


26

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 ...


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 ...


18

I suggest you continue to write however the words come out. Because the last thing you want to do is feel like you can't write unless it's perfect (or better). Every day, go through a paragraph or two of your work and use S. Mitchell's excellent suggestions to revise it. As time goes on, your revisions will be quicker because—in addition to being better ...


17

In a non-scientific text (or in a scientific text, for that matter,) you should really keep it consistent. If you're otherwise using British English, then 'Aluminium' will look perfectly normal, just like 'colour' or 'metre.' However, if you're writing in American English, it will look weird, just as 'colour' or 'metre' would in an otherwise-American text. ...


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

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

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 ...


15

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

Is there a situation where reversing the natural word order is ill-advised or completely wrong. Yes. Consider a simple sentence such as "Mary ate an apple." Using anastrophe, you could write this as subject-object-verb ("Mary an apple ate"), object-subject-verb ("an apple Mary ate") or even object-verb-subject ("an apple ate Mary"). The last one is a bit ...


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

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

From a structure point of view, you're making it far too short to be easily understandable by a reader. “Love not self - love no one” It sounds more like a commandment to live by rather than a causal implication. The fact that verbs are in their root forms makes the sentence look like an imperative statement: there will be people that, without any given ...


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