Write Over the Hump: Defining New Words

I love to learn new words when I’m reading a book. And I’m especially pleased when a writer uses the new-to-me word in a way that allows me to figure out its meaning from the context alone. That way I don’t have to stop to look it up in the dictionary. Elizabeth George is a master at this. I almost never have to fetch a dictionary when I’m immersed in her delightful vocabulary.

The “big words” we use need to be clear to readers from context alone. And it shouldn’t sound as though the writer is defining the term, talking down to the reader or feel awkward in the sentence structure. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, but with a little practice it can become second nature. Try this fun exercise to start.

Write Over the Hump 

Use these words in a story or scene: pehty; abed; sheney. Write so that the reader can understand what they mean just from the context. Do NOT define words anywhere in the text of the story. Give yourself 10 minutes. Go!


How did you use these words?

(Be sure to check back next week for more on these three words.)

About Susan Tuttle

Susan Tuttle is a professional freelance editor, writing instructor and multi-award winning author of 21 books—6 nonfiction on writing (Write It Right), 6 suspense novels and 7 collections of award-winning short stories. She also has stories in both volumes of "Deadlines", the new anthology from the Central Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC), Tales from a Rocky Coast, and the SLO NightWriter anthology. Under the pen name Susan Grace O'Neill, she is the author of the Journey With Jesus series: Lord, Let Me Grow (Parables) vol. 1, and Lord, Let Me Walk (Lent). She is currently working on volume #2 of her Skylark P.I. series (a PI with paranormal abilities), as well as 2 YA fantasy series. And she teaches fiction writing in both the morning and afternoon every Wednesday. Email her if you're interested in joining her class. And follow her on Twitter and FaceBook.