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writing precise words

Sweetheart, Are You Using Precise Words for Your Memoir?

Is writing precise words really important in a memoir?

Over the years, I have written energetically about the importance of writing precise words instead of generic ones.

I was dropping someone off at the bus station (aka the Intermodal Transportation Center) when I overheard an exchange that purported to be a dialog that convinced me once again of the necessity for precision in speech–and, by extension, in our memoir writing. It was proof that generic words really do miss the mark and lead to confusing messages.

A grandmother was seeing her daughter (I presumed from the similarity of looks) and three grandchildren off—or perhaps it was the other way. The grandmother had said goodbye to the two girls and there was a boy of about 10 whom she had not yet bid her fond farewell to. He was looking around the space, distracted by this and that and not paying much attention to what was going on.

“Sweetheart,” the grandmother said, holding her arms out to hug him. The boy continued to look around elsewhere.

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