I’ve been thinking about a writer’s conundrum-word choice. I bought a copy of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for my son to read, and it has the more difficult words highlighted and defined. Now, while I am all for having people read anything they want as long as they were reading, this got me thinking. With all the MG and YA books out now, when is vocabulary building among younger readers going to kick in? Before there were YA books, readers turned to adult books as soon as they have run through the available children’s books. Now, with all the great choices out there in YA, does this still happen. I know people actually use flash cards to try to increase vocabulary, but that seems an absurd way to do it, when people should actually be building vocabulary through reading.
Here’s a sentence from Dr. Jekyll-“As for the moral turpitude that man unveiled to me, even with tears of penitence, I cannot even in memory, dwell on it without a start of horror.” I don’t know if I’ve read the word ‘turpitude’ in any modern book, YA or otherwise. Do we just use more common words in our writing, so they are more easily understood? Should we sneak a few more complex words in whenever we can?
I just learned a new word today from another writer: sussurate. It means a faint indistinct or background sound, resembling whispering. That’s a great word, but I don’t know if I could ever work it into my writing.