Lesson #109: Steps for Enriching Your Writing with the Right Vocabulary

While looking at this rose in my garden, I am reminded of the process of learning and improving our competence in any language.

We learn a language word by word, step-by-step, layer upon layer, just as this rose’s petals layer over each other.

And another point of similarity: just as these petals are relatively small, so the slow progress of adding to our vocabulary may seem limited and insignificant in the bigger picture.

But GOOD, ENRICHING VOCABULARY is what truly gives good writing its colour and tone.

Whenever a word is included in the right place within a sentence, the ‘flavour’ of the sentence immediately becomes more memorable, even meaningful.

Consider this line from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (1847):

πŸ“™ “I am no bird; and no net ensnared me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you.”

Compare those stirring words with a simpler, bland phrasing: “I will leave you. No one can stop me.”

Besides the obvious fact that Charlotte Bronte used a vivd metaphor, what words do you think added to her turning a bland statement like my example into an articulate and moving sentence?

WORDS like ‘ensnared’, ‘net’, ‘independent’, ‘will’ and ‘exert’.

They all have a COMMON TONE: one of force.

Their imagery is CONSISTENT: they all speak of strength and control.

✍️ Now your turn: what words (no matter how simple they may seem to you at first) can you use to enrich your writing this week?
Remember that you only need a few to make a difference!

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me (via the contact form). I look forward to reading them!

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by Joyce E. Gibbons

English language tutor and researcher at 'Learn English Through Literature' (2021)