When you are writing a poem or a piece of prose, you have to think carefully about your diction. Diction is a term used to describe the process of choosing the words and phrases that you use within your writing. If you select each word with care, you’ll be able to say things in a more concise and effective way.
Many writers only have a limited understanding of the concept of diction. If you deepen your understanding of diction, you’ll become a much more effective writer. When selecting words there are three things to keep in mind:
- The word is accurate
- The word fits within the context of the piece
- The word is easily understandable
Finding Words With The Right Sound
When you’re selecting words, you can’t just think about their meaning. You also have to think about the way they sound. Many famous poets, like T.S. Elliot, are known for playing with alliteration. Considering the number of syllables in a word is also important.
It’s a good idea to use a thesaurus when you write. That way, you can experiment with different words and find one with the kind of sound that you want.
Eliminating Unnecessary Words
When a writer uses too many words, it can be difficult to determine what they are actually trying to say. Unneeded words can cloud your intent and remove clarity from your writing.
When you’re focusing on your diction, you need to think about whether or not a word is improving your piece. Don’t be afraid to cut words that are making your intent less clear.
Types of Diction
As mention in #2, context is important when selecting words. In certain situations, you need to be formal and have formal diction and there are other times where we can be a bit more relaxed and use informal diction. You speak to your boss in a different manner than you’d speak to a friend. Also don’t forget about slang and colloquialisms – an overuse of these can leave the reader confused.
Example of Diction in Poetry
“A frosty winter night – my love,
Chill wind whispers sweet adoration.
Binds my body with the finest wool,
The darkest of sweet sensations.”
John Anderson, Night, My Lover
In the above excerpt from Night, My Lover by John Anderson, notice how he uses words with ‘w’ and ‘s’ sounds. He did this to portray peaceful calming feelings when reading the poem. In the even that John said “Cold gales talk sugary love”, the meaning or feeling of the poem would completely change. This is how fiction comes into play when writing poetry and evoking a feeling.