Posted by on June 16, 2016

say what you mean - weasel wordsWeasel Word – A word used in order to avoid being clear or direct. (Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary)

So close.

I’ve been telling folks I’ve completed my second novel in the Balustrade series. I just have to weed out some weasel words, and it will be good to go. However, I’ve clearly underestimated weasel words and my odd affinity to use them.

Blast you “that” and “just.”

Weasel words hurt a book. They weigh it down, cause ambiguity, and keep the reader at arm’s-length.

A good book doesn’t want to keep a reader at arm’s-length. A good book wants to snuggle up to a reader and share a blankie or cup of tea.

Which brings me to my next realization.

watch your wordsI have some pesky weasel words floating around inside my life too. They’re the words I use to answer a question, but not let too much of me out there. You know, like “fine.”

“I’m fine.”

Whenever I say that to my husband, he stops whatever he’s doing and comes straight to me. It’s kind of a code for “I’m not fine, and you better pick up on that.” To his sweet credit, he always does.

Another one is “frustrated.”

I’ll say, “I’m frustrated,” when what I’m really feeling eclipses frustration and has me wanting to punch something. (Perhaps some middle ground is needed on this one.)

I’ve got a ton of these, and they all have to do with covering up my feelings and pretending like my rough edges aren’t so rough. Some would say I’m being careful or caring or conscientious, but what they should be calling me is a LIAR.

Weasel Words in a life keep you from being real, honest, and accessible.

Every time I throw out that “Fine” or dismiss the boiling inside with a more polite “frustrated.” I lie, not only to you, but to myself.

And sure, I understand how the guy holding the door for me at Barnes & Noble might not really want an answer when he asks me how I’m doing, but does that mean I’m supposed to lie to him?

I think not.

Instead, I’m trying to speak with the same intentionality I use when I write. What’s a more descriptive and accurate way to answer this stranger that will be real, but also not invite any unwanted hugging or concern?

How about this?

Stranger – “How ya doing?”

Me – “I’m not going to complain.” OR “Besides the bad hair day, things are going well.” Or “Sleepy.” (I actually do say that one sometimes.)

Oh well, I guess I can’t plan this out, since it’s supposed to be accurate to the moment.

A kiss on the lips honesty avoids weasel wordsNow that I’m through editing out all the weasel words in my second novel, it’s time to move on to the ones cluttering up my life. I can do this. Ask me a question. I’ll give you a succinct, honest, and non-passive answer.

How about you? Do you have any weasel words filling up your pages and holding you back from the world? May today be a day of intentionally spoken words and accurately shared feelings!


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