Investigated – Word Choice in Books

Posted June 30, 2014 by Emily in Investigated / 3 Comments

Today’s topic is diction. What do I mean by diction? Well, I mean the choices the author makes regarding… well, words. Whether it is language like curing, or creating a whole new set of vocabulary, to me, that all qualifies under diction.


Personally, I don’t really have a huge problem with curing in YA. Honestly, to me, sometimes in a book seems a bit… weird, if there’s no cursing. Especially with realistic fiction because in reality, a lot of teens curse. I cannot remember one day when I have not heard one word of “foul” language while wandering down the halls of my high school. That being said, it does bother me if a character is cursing excessively. It’s one thing to drop the f-bomb once in a while. It’s another thing to drop it at least twice in every sentence.


New Words

This is the part that find interesting. I find that sometimes I like the made up words… other times, not so much. For example, I kind of liked all the new language in The Maze Runner because I think it adds to the book. Would the book be terribly different without all the new words? Probably not, and honestly probably also a bit easier to understand right off the bat, but I think once you get a hang of it, it’s kind of cool. It’s understandable why the characters have come to develop a new dialect. I think it has something to do with the fact that The Maze Runner is a dystopian novel. It is set in a world that is different from the one we know and thus it was make sense why the language is a bit different from the one we know.

That being said, I think it makes sense to have new words in novels like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter. Percy Jackson is set in a world filled with Greek and Roman mythology which would explain why it makes sense that it includes some words that an everyday reader, one no totally obsessed with mythology or a student of Greek / Latin, doesn’t understand. It would be normal for them to look a word or phrase and go “That’s all Greek to me!”. Harry Potter on the other hand exists in a completely fictional new world. It is set in one that is neither completely like the world we know, nor is it completely based off mythology or history. A whole new world calls for some imagination. It would be kind of dumb to have a wizard point his wand at something and exclaim “Levitate!” No, Wingardium Leviosa sounds a lot cooler and more appropriate.

Those are three examples where I think their word choice is explained. However, I still do not think it is ideal for books to contain totally new words just because. “Oh, Sally and Mark wanted to create a secret language just because they felt like it. They only use it with each other. So, blah means hungry and asdfdae means sad…” -__- PLEASE SPARE ME! In this instance the creation of new “words” serves only to annoy the reader and has no other purpose. Therefore it is meaningless for me to have to essentially learn a new language just because “Sally” and “Mark” thought that creating a secret language would up their cool factor.


What do you think about diction?
Is cursing okay?
Are new words appropriate?




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3 responses to “Investigated – Word Choice in Books

    • Eww, curse words as filler words? I hate that too. Curse words should be used to express emotions, not just because the author had a problem finding another word. -__-

      Thanks for always stopping by and commenting! 🙂 I really appreciate it!