Sunday, 10 March 2013

Getting the words right - Karen Bush



Choosing the right words is so important - not just in getting across a point or describing an image, but in actually creating the right sort of atmosphere.
Take H.P Lovecraft for example: his protagonists invariably find themselves 
out and about under a gibbous moon. 
Not a boring old crescent moon or a full moon, you note, but a gibbous one.  
It's not necessary to look up the definition in the dictionary: it's the very sound and look of the word which does the job in setting the scene, rather than knowing the moon phase referred to. 
Already you can feel the goosebumps starting.
And before long, you've really got the willies when the hero bumps into one of the local peasants who is sure to have a squamous appearance ...

What are your favourite words or turns of phrase?


Not as scary as HPL ... but might raise a hackle or two ...
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10 comments:

Susan Price said...

I'm a boring pedant, I know, but I couldn't rest until I'd found out what the words mean. Gibbous - more than half moon, but less than full.
Squamous - covered or characterised by scales. So a fish is squamous, I suppose?
All the Authors Electric must know by now that one of my favourite phrases is 'herding cats.' Imagining someone trying to herd cats can give me hours - well, okay - minutes of solid amusement. It's said to be a cliche, but I find it very vivid. I feel the same about 'the elephant in the room'. I think it very clearly sums up that all too frequent atmosphere of people steadfastly ignoring the very obvious.

Lee said...

Favourite words? The right ones in the right place. (Don't ask me how you know, however...)

madwippitt said...

Oddly enough, although gibbous and squamous are words frequently associated with HPL, they don't actually crop up that often - gibbous only 9 times and squamous just once in original works. HP does have a wonderful and often archaic vocab though, Sue!
And Lee - yes, of course!

Reb MacRath said...

All-time favorite word, first found in a book by John Farris: liquorish/also spelled lickerish. Though it means lecherous, I can't help but hear licorice and liquor. A weird and stunning combination.

Lee said...

Well, to add a note: I'm quite fond of the ones I coin myself, slang among them. One of the pleasures of writing speculative stuff.

madwippitt said...

Well come on Lee, don't be shy - you need to give us an example now!

And Reb - sometimes consistency in spelling makes sense ... can you imagine the confusion between desiring a packet of Bassett's and something entirely different ...

Lee said...

Karen, you mean you haven't read Corvus? I'm mortified!

;-)

OK, a small sample: auger (think 'nigger'*) for the cognoscens folk, spang (flash), racked (pissed off), quantangled (quantum entangled), the insecs, often referred to as 'insects' (Inland Security), snugs (snoop bugs), kankers & greasers etc.

(*I absolutely refuse to use euphemisms like 'n-word', 'f-word', 'c-word'. Nope, won't do it.)

Lee said...

Reb, that lecherous word is a keeper, especially since I happen to be mad about liquorice - the allsorts variety! (If anyone makes a trip to Berlin, remind me to give you the address of the dedicated liquorice shop you don't want to miss.)

Jan Needle said...

nobody read dylan thomas any more, then? what about the 'lickerish bog black chickens' cavorting about a cottage floor in good old Llaregeb?

and madwippitt, what's wrong with a combination? post coital smoking is so very last season, doncherknow?

madwippitt said...

Lee - sorry, no not got round to reading Corvus yet as I'm busy catching up with awhole pile of back-reading, but I'll get there eventually!

And Jan ... chocolate as a substitute for a fag, possibly: but liquorice requires too much chewing.