For the Love of Words
When I was developing my characters for Emerald Bound, I decided that my main character, Maggie, needed to have a quirk. I wanted it to be something loveable, but a little bit nerdy.
I took the GRE (Graduate Records Exam) a year or so before I started seriously writing because I was thinking about going to grad school to get my Speech Pathology certification (obviously taking me down a totally different path than the one I’m on now). The weird thing is, I actually enjoyed studying for the test. I guess I’d been out of school and focused on my babies for so long that my brain was craving stimulation.
My favorite part about studying for the GRE was learning the vocab for the English portion. I love learning new words and all their nuances and shades of meaning. So I decided to give Maggie a love of big words. Kate (her best friend who goes missing) is the one who really has the words down pat and she’s been helping Maggie study. In fact, the book starts because the girls are so burned out on studying that they do something stupid, setting everything else into motion.
Throughout the book, Maggie drops an SAT word in now and then and the words she uses serve various purposes. Sometimes it’s just to lighten the mood, other times she uses the word wrong or second guesses herself, giving those passages an air of uncertainty. That’s when Maggie’s really not sure of what she’s doing in the story. Other times, she’s got the exact right word at the exact right time and it’s a minor victory for her.
Weaving the SAT words in was one of my favorite things about writing this book and I have to admit, the first draft had way too many of them. I did a fair amount of cutting. As I did my read-throughs, I realized that some of the times Maggie dropped a big word in it detracted from the story or lightened the mood where the mood really shouldn’t have been lightened.
So, what’s your favorite big word and why? Mine is serendipitous. First of all, because it’s just such a fun-sounding word and, secondly, because it’s tone matches it’s meaning. It’s a happy, fun, and unexpectedly awesome word.
Are you a word nerd like me and Maggie? When you’re reading Emerald Bound, will you be able to tell when Maggie’s using her words correctly?