How do you strengthen yours?
Churchill had an extensive range of lexical knowledge and depth of understanding. But I do find myself struggling with the right words in my novels. Many times...i stare into empty space, thinking hard and long...then try acting out the verb in the attempt that it comes to me. I end up writing as close to the meaning in the hope that during the editing stage the perfect version will emerge.
Any tips please?
This says read more fiction... Yey!
One thing to consider with language is to tailor the words to who is using them, particularly in speech. Putting yourself into the mind of a character can be a bit of a stretch sometimes, but not everyone is articulate and also certain professions have a recognisable way of expressing themselves, which may involve using cliched phrases. Just think of how policemen, doctors, lawyers and psychiatrists express themselves - we could all do passable imitations of them talking.
The psychological thriller that I wrote was full of police officers who have stiff and formal ways of saying things, and I had to do an abrupt linguistic gear change for the language used by an uneducated drug addict, who was also in a state of shock from having discovered the corpse of a murder victim.
There's the advice given to writers to kill your darlings,
which always hovers around tormenting you about a favourite phrase or sentence. Don't be too hasty about eradicating them as too clever-clever, for you might just have written something delightful that readers will enjoy. It's said that reading your work out loud, perhaps recording it to listen to later, is a good way of weeding out bits that don't ring true - and this can include individual words.
Top Tip (but scary) : use your writing programme's search function to find multiple uses of a word or phrase. When I was editing my manuscript, I discovered to my horror that I'd used the word 'red' 94 times - what's wrong with scarlet, mauve, purple, cherry, crimson, flame-coloured, even pink? Granted there are some words that it was unavoidable to use multiple times, for there's only a few ways of saying that someone has been done away with - murdered
being the obvious ones, with slain
thrown in occasionally, along with homicide