Crepuscular, metonym, avuncular, loquacious… It’s so easy for a writer to become infatuated by words. Sometimes it’s the sound of the word. Sometimes it is the specificity of its meaning. Sometimes it’s so cool that you just want to use it in something.
I love crepuscular. In addition to rolling off the tongue, the meaning is precise. Crepuscular describes a creature of twilight. Cats are crepuscular. They hunt during the twilight hours just before the dawn and at dusk. The word twilight has been hijacked by the series of vampire novels. I can’t wait until they fade and twilight goes back to being a wonderful, magical time of the day and a beautiful word.
Metonyms are useful words and phrases. ‘Plastic’ filling in for credit/debit cards OR ‘Washington’ as a substitute for saying the U.S. Government are common and useful when writing dialog. But metonym itself doesn’t flow easily from the mouths of characters. It’s still cool.
Avuncular is old fashioned. It’s the kindhearted uncle of friendly descriptions and it fits into Agatha Christie’s St. Mary’s Mead (home of Miss Marple). It rings false in a noir tale or in contemporary dialog.
I have the same problem with loquacious. Someone recently used it to describe a Tango dancer seeking a partner for a workshop with a famous dance duo. The teacher trying to find him a dance partner sent me a Facebook chat about him. She didn’t know that I already knew him. I found her word choice more than a little ludicrous. Not because she was wrong. He talks, talks, talks…. But I would have led off with a relevant description of him as a dancer. Still, loquacious is a lovely word and her decision to use it instead of ‘talkative’ says a great deal about her as a character.
That’s where my infatuation with words meets my determination to choose the right words for my characters in fiction. If I put loquacious into the mouth of a character, she’d have to be a serious reader with a large vocabulary. Perhaps loquacious would be used by a Scrabble and crossword fan?
Words, words, words…. I love words!