Daily Archives: July 29, 2010

Loaded Connotations

My DD is newly in love.  Her friend’s brother has captured her heart.  The other day, I asked what she did while at BF’s house.  She blushed all the way to her belly button.

“Nothing.  Not that.  Nothing.  We don’t do anything, Mom.  I promise.”

Me: “So you just sit and stare at each other?  You don’t talk or watch television or play games or anything?  Just stare?”

She, with her blush subsiding: “Oh, that.  We hang out and talk or watch tv or play on the computer.”

Sometimes we forget that words can be loaded.  We don’t realize all the subtle connotations that are attached to simple phrases.  Yet as writers, we need to be hyper vigilant about the words we choose and how they can impact our readers.  Especially when we write cross-culturally or across generations.

When we write, we cannot accurately portray the way want the meaning to sound.  Body language, facial clues and vocal inflection are not present on the printed page.  This makes it essential for us to understand all the connotations of a given word before committing it to paper.  Otherwise we end up with stammering, blushing readers who fail to grasp what we intended to say.

What words rub you the wrong way?  How do you handle passages that offend you?  Do you reread them to look for alternate meanings or do you simply put the book down and move on to something a little less confrontational?  Is this something you look for when editing your manuscripts?  If so, how do you balance what you wanted to say with what might actually be on the page?