Tag Archives: mot juste

Using the Right Word – Le Mot Juste!

Painters use paint, house builders use bricks – and writers use WORDS.

Influential French novelist – Gustave Flaubert – would spend days searching for the one right word.  He believed that success to good literary work required the painstaking task of foraging through until le mot juste – popped off the page.  It was no wonder if would take him weeks to write a single page.  This technique greatly limited his output – but there is no question as to the quality of his work.

The Right Word isn’t The Biggest One!

Writers, especially beginners believe that you need to replace every word with an obscure replacement from a handy thesaurus.  In reality, a simple word is sometimes your best bet.

Which sentence sounds best?

  • I crossed the field and kicked the ball to the back of the net.
  • I crossed the field and struck the ball to the back of the net.
  • I crossed the field and propelled the ball to the back of the net.

There really isn’t a right answer.  Choosing the right word isn’t just a matter of context within a sentence.  Sometimes the word must reflect the entire paragraph – or page – or chapter.  For instance, the more uncommon a word is – the less you should reuse a word.  In the above examples, I can get away with using the word “kicked” several times…but using “propelled” would not be advised.

Profanity

Sometimes the right word is a bad one!  But be cautious not to overuse them.  Doing so will reek of amateurism!