Antidisestablishmentarianism and the magic of words, a guest post by Anne Greenwood Brown
Why antidisestablishmentarianism? Well, in part because I was being a smart mouth. But also in part because I have always loved that word – it is fun to say. I am also a huge fan of onomatopoeia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, guffaw, and more. Some words just have an amazing sound to them. So today, Anne Greenwood Brown, author of Lies Beneath, writes about antidisestablishmentarianism – and the magic of words. It turns out, I am not the only one who loves that word.
I could have said that the aspens simply grew out of the bank, but using the words haphazardly, clinging, and precarious, the setting better informs Calder’s character. Just as the trees cling to the earth, Calder clings to his humanity. The tree fights gravity just as Calder fights his nature, and there’s always the threat that the tree (or Calder) will lose its grip and fall into the lake.
This part of the writing process takes the most time for me. While I can get a first draft done quickly, the polishing takes much longer. To illustrate, here’s an excerpt from the first draft of Chapter 1:
The “sh” sound in thrash, the “ff” in muffling, and the “ph” in metamorphosis were too soft, and it resulted in a passage that didn’t pack the right punch. In the finished version, that same paragraph reads like this:
The double “pp” of rippedand the double “gg” of snagged are harsh and violent words, while the softer tones of push and pulse, hint at something gentler yet to come.
Laini Taylor plays soft and hard sounds against each other in Daughter of Smoke & Bone to describe the dichotomy of her character Kaz when she says:
Sometimes the scene can be conjured not just with the words themselves, but in their arrangement. For example, Stiefvater’s Shiver begins,
“I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves.”
In this introduction, Grace is the small red spot, and that description of her comes in the middle of the sentence, surrounded on both sides by the snow and the wolves.
About Lies Beneath
Anne Greenwood Brown lives and writes in Minnesota. LIES BENEATH, her debut Young Adult novel about murderous mermaids on Lake Superior, will be released by Random House/Delacorte next Tuesday June 12th.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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