Tag Archives: stories

Words are magic, that’s why it’s called spelling

Wide-range reading

I’ve been reading out of my genre this week – Longbourn caught my eye (and who wouldn’t want a chance to escape back into the Pride and Prejudice universe?) and I’ve absolutely loved it.

As well as the story (it’s Pride and Prejudice seen from the servants’ point of view), I’ve loved the language of the book. I mostly read genre fiction in large part because I’m addicted to pace. You don’t get a cracking, breathless read from literary fiction (feel free to correct me, anyone!). But the other element I love about books is the words, the actual building blocks of our language.

Some words are simply gorgeous

There are some words I particularly love. I wrote the word ‘gumption’ in a letter recently (yes, an actual, paper letter; rarity in itself) and regretted that it doesn’t get out more. My all-time favourite is probably ‘prestidigitation’, which I adore so much I wrote a story around it (named – what else? – The Magic Word). Longbourn revisited another of my favourites, dropping the word ‘meniscus’ into its description with charming confidence – and there aren’t many occasions when that’s going to work.

I write genre fiction and, like the books I enjoy most, my focus is mainly on creating a stonking, fast-paced read, but my love of words shines through with the occasional guest appearance of ‘supercilious’ or ‘insatiable’ glinting brightly amongst all the mundane ‘justs’ and ‘thats’ which creep in despite my best efforts.

Words are a gentle sort of magic

Words build together to create another, more power enchantment: stories. Stories cast spells across cultures and ages and galaxies, drawing us together, letting us experience lives very different from our own. If that isn’t magic, I don’t know what is.

Words are magic, that's why they call it spelling

I’ve shown you some of my favourites – what glorious words do you think should get out more often? Tell me in the comments below.

Terrorised by punctuation

Now, this probably isn’t going to be what you think. While I wouldn’t describe myself as an expert I’m quite comfortable with grammar and I absolutely know where to put an apostrophe, so punctuation actually holds no horror for me.

What prompted this post was a blog I read about reading with your children, how important it is to read with your children (no argument there), and how vital it is to still keep pace with your children’s reading when they get too old to be read to (as someone who has never outgrown YA fiction, no problem with that, either).

I had no issue with the points made, but the writer had underlined their passion for the subject by peppering their post with exclamation marks! Loads of them! Really, it was extraordinary how many they could fit into a paragraph! I felt as though I’d been shouted at! Repeatedly!

As a keen reader I read an awful lot but I rarely notice punctuation. And I think that’s the point. Punctuation should fade entirely into the background, guiding the reader to interpret the meaning behind the assembled words correctly, but drawing no attention to itself.

I’m curious, has anyone else had punctuation jump out in front of them like this, or am I the only one to be ambushed by an exclamation mark?