Choosing the Perfect Word

dictionaryI love it when my characters use words I’m not certain of, and then when I go to check the definition, it’s precisely the right word to use! Ah, the cleverness of them.

For example, in the latest scene I was writing, Arianna was walking through the castle with her bow and arrows, feeling stupid. She said of passersby, “To their credit, none of them openly stared at her strange accoutrements.” Now, I don’t use that word. It’s too stuffy. And it didn’t sound like the right word for the situation, so I looked it up. The definition is “the equipment needed for a particular activity or way of life” — turns out Arianna had chosen the perfect word.

Eustace does this all the time, unsurprisingly. I mean, he’s not the Scholar for nothing. (Of course, when I go back to look for examples to show him off, I can’t find any of them. Alas.)

In a somewhat related vein, the most obnoxious feeling is when you’re thinking of a word — the perfect word — it’s on the tip of your tongue, but…nothing. No idea what it is. You can think of every almost-good-enough word there is, but not that perfect one. I turn to the thesaurus at that point and encounter every single word I’d already thought of (and then some) but I still can’t find it. Maybe it never existed, I don’t know.

It’s been several weeks now, but I’m still trying to find a word that means “soul” or “spirit” but isn’t either of those. Nothing seems right. Seriously, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment with options for a word I can use, because I’m running out of ideas.


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

From The Narrator, Chapter 9

Quote

As soon as they entered the woods, the bright summer afternoon went out like a snuffed candle. The pleasant heat was replaced with a cool, damp breeze that surrounded them like a whisper. The trees pressed in on them, their trunks forcing the riders to shrink into their saddles. Low-hanging branches blocked the path, while tangled roots threatened to trip the horses.

But worse than all of that was the oppressive sense of someone watching them. Or rather, something, as if the trees watched their progress with disapproving stares. Calder wanted to confess everything he’d ever done in a vain attempt to make the judgement stop, or to curl up into a ball and close his eyes and wish all of it away.

Instead, he lifted the next branch out of his way and continued on.

After an hour of fighting the forest, Saydie grumbled, “I’m starting to think we’re not welcome.”


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.