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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Perambulation

As always, Rouge Wavers, I save up interesting or comical mistakes I find in scripts for your entertainment and edification. That is to say, I hope you more than chuckle, you also take a lesson away from a given example.

Puzzled as if over the results of a random number generator, the Wave-inatrix often finds odd errors clustered not just in one script but in several scripts within one week. And recently, I found three scripts in one week that used the wrong synonym for "walk". Writers know that choosing descriptors with a finer point on them is important for writing interesting pages. In other words if every character simply "walks" across a room, that gets dull quickly. This is a truth fundamental to all writing, naturally. Writers are wordsmiths so our vocabulary knowledge is generally several points higher than the general public. Or at least - it should be. Here are three examples of synonyms for "walk" which were completely and totally, 100% contextually wrong:

His automatic weapon in hand, the secret serviceman waddled to the edge of the building to take aim.

WADDLED?? Like a baby with a dirty diaper? Or an obese old lady?

MARINE GUNNERY SERGEANT ROGERS picked up his baseball bat and angrily sauntered over to the fight.

This guy, who has a handlebar mustache, by the way, and now runs a rowdy bar with drunken patrons, is very upset in this scene. So he saunters?

DR. CARRIGAN scampers down the hall as he responds to the Code Blue.

Scampers? Like a kitten? This is an emergency room doctor in a hellish, low budget hospital. He's overworked, he's losing his mind a bit and he - scampers?

So Rouge Wavers, be aware that an excellent vocabulary is a requisite part of being a writer and if you aren't sure if you're using the right word, look it up.

Synonyms have shades of meaning; connotations and implications that shift the tone slightly in one direction or another. Use your words with precision. Because using an inappropriate synonym can inadvertently make the difference between a great description and a laugh at your expense. I don't know about you, but I don't want any waddling security guys protecting ME.

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3 comments:

scott millar said...

Waddling, scampering, sauntering are all so pedestrian.

Laura Reyna said...

LOL!

Hard to believe there are people out there that use a thesaurus like a dart board.

Oh, but there are!

DougJ said...

Parting the Friday night crowd, he cantered up to the bar.

Bartender: Why the long face?