The Intuitive Nature of Writing

Every writer has their own particular style: their voice. A large portion of that is based on knowing what sounds good. Knowing what sounds good however, doesn’t necessarily mean being an expert grammarian.

Taking an example from real life, school is well into its early weeks here. This lead to my nephew coming home with homework on the different types of nouns, and that lead to my sister turning to me with the question:

What’s a non-count noun?

Much as I wish I could say I told her they were all of those nouns that can’t be counted such as art, love, clothing, justice, and therefore don’t have a regular plural form, my response was to stare at her and ask her to repeat herself in a way that made sense. (Thankfully, Google is a friend and we were able to help my nephew with his homework).

While I’m sure somewhere along the way that bit of information was imparted to me it’s clearly not something that stuck around. Do I know that if I want to discuss art in a plural sense I need to say artworks or even works of art? Yes. The same goes for clothing. I can discuss the individual items such as shirts, dresses, pants or socks, or the pieces of clothing, but I can’t throw an s on clothing if I’m discussing then entire group. I also know that if I’m trying to discuss plural forms of love or justice I’m going to have to get a little creative and that context is going to be very important.

That’s where writer intuition comes into play. Although we may not be able to explain exactly why something sounds good, we do know what. And like everyone has a preference for different music styles, each writer has a preference for different sounds in terms of flow and voice. It’s what gives us so much variety in the world of literature.

Writing at it’s core is telling a story, and figuring out which words will spark the most reaction out of your audience. It’s knowing that fire sounds bland, but inferno sounds powerful. Sometimes of course, it’s also not knowing. It’s the intuitive part of testing and retesting words until you find the one that just sounds right.


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