When someone asks you, "How are you?" What's your normal reply?
You probably say, "I'm OK."
OK, well, most of us tend to give a reply along that line. But the thing is, with that kind of reply, do you think the person who asked you will have a clear idea of how you really are? I mean, if someone sincerely wanted to know how you are, she would expect a clear answer.
Let's face it, "OK" is a vague term. How OK are you exactly? OK as in really great? OK as in, "I'm getting by..."? OK as in "Gosh, I'm dying here!" Well, you get the picture.
People tend to be lazy to express exactly what they mean. Words like, "OK," "Nice," "Fine," "Not good," and such are "blanket words"...they cover a lot of territory but they really don't tell you anything.
As writers, we write to be understood. To get our message across without any hitches. To express what we really mean in clear and un-vague terms. That's why we have to use precise words. And this is achieved by using accurate and expressive words.
English is abundant with vivid words...use them. Don't settle for the vague ones. Make your writing more exact and vivid!
Here are some very easy exercises to help you get rid of vagueness:
A. Think of at least three vivid and specific verbs for each general verbs given.
B. Using the specific verbs you came up with in A, write a short story, article, or news (fictional).
Copyright © Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ
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