Monday, September 7, 2015

Monday's Links to Writing & Marketing Blog Posts

By: Melinda Brasher

I've been running into a problem lately:  characters I otherwise like are constantly smirking.  I'm reading the third book now where this word appears in conjunction with friendly amusement, tenderness, or affection, and if I were sitting down with the authors, I might not be able to resist quoting The Princess Bride:  "You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means."

To Smirk or Not To Smirk

To me, a smirk is cocky, smug, or cruel.  At the very least, it's a teasing sort of smile, or a "hah!  I got you!"  Smirking is what the bad guy does as he pulls one over on your hero, not what your hero does when he tells the heroine that he loves her. 

But after so many counterexamples, I thought maybe I had my definition wrong.  So I looked it up.

Oxford:  "to smile in an irritatingly smug, conceited, or silly way."

Merriam-Webster:  "to smile in an unpleasant way because you are pleased with yourself, glad about someone else's trouble, etc."

Apparently back in the day it used to mean simply "to smile," but we're not back in the day, and even if you're writing historical fiction, it's a dangerous game to use an old definition of a word that now has quite a different meaning. 

Other Smiling Words

I've come across the same thing with grin.  To me, a grin is a big, face-scrunching smile, usually silly, mischievous, humorous, or teasing.  It's not the kind of thing you usually do in, for example, a sentimental or bittersweet moment. 

Laughing Words

Synonyms for 'laugh' can cause problems too.  If your tough manly man giggles, that's interesting characterization.  Maybe he's really a little girl at heart.  Maybe he gets nervous easily in unfamiliar situations.  But you'd better mean it if you use it.  If a character guffaws at something that's not so funny to the reader, you might lose credibility.  Unless, of course, over-laughter is part of his personality.  Again, great characterization--but only if you mean it that way.

Walking Words

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To read the rest of the post, click here:


If you missed my writing & marketing tweets and retweets yesterday, here they are again:
  • Writers On The Move: Your Character's Smirking...or Is He? Synonym Pitfalls.
  • You Want to Upgrade Your Writing Skills? Use These 10 Online Tools by Julie Petersen | Romance University
  • Stop Grading an Author's Social Media Presence | Digital Book World
  • Write the Book You Don't Expect - Girlfriends Book Club
  • How to Sell More Books and Grow Your Fan Base at Author Events
  • Gordon A. Wilson: The Holy Grail for Authors. 5 Reasons to Self Publish
  • Tighten Your Writing Style by Rayne Hall | Romance University
  • Targeted marketing for indie books | Self-Publishing Advice from The Alliance of Independent Authors
  • Organised Writing Files | Self-Publishing Advice from The Alliance of Independent Authors
  • Top Five Low-Cost/No-Cost Book Promotion Tips - Girlfriends Book Club
  • This Simple Writing Habit Changed My Life
  • Five Things Painting Taught Me About Writing
  • Creative Writing Exercise: Write About Your Most-Loved Pet | Write to Done
  • Portrait of a Compulsive Writer (Keillor Retires... to Take Up Screenwriting) - The Writer Underground
  • No, You Don’t Have to Work 24/7 to Succeed - Michael Hyatt
  • How To Get A Great Author Domain Name When Is Taken - Where Writers Win
  • Print Book Production for indie authors | Self-Publishing Advice from The Alliance of Independent Authors
  • Social Media Changes Authors Need to Know - Social Media Just for Writers
  • 10 Rules of Writing a Novel |
  • Twelve Favorite Podcasts for Authors: Part I - Casts on Craft - Where Writers Win
Happy writing and running, Kathy 

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