1. passenger
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    passenger Member

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    point me in the right direction.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by passenger, Sep 28, 2014.

    I've read the New members guide, but I was wondering if someone could help point me in the right direction. i'm new to writing, very new. i just started increasing my vocab and the best way i know how to remember new words is to put them into a sentence. so i signed up here thinking this would be the ideal place. however, looking through the threads i believe my questions would be far to trivial and maybe even annoying to some e.g. " there will be many who attempt to disparage his message with extreme effrontery." - would i use with or in? and is this sentence even using disparage and effrontery correctly?
    These are the types of threads i would be posting, but not sure if this site is the place. Please let me know, and thanks again.

    - passenger

    p.s. The question above is my first real question. :write:
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Word choice always depends on the surrounding content and characters. For me you could go with discredit & rudeness but again it all depends on characters and content. Does it stand out from the rest of the text? Also 'with' sound better than 'in' because it's explaining how they're disparaging the message.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is your primary goal the improvement of your writing? Building your vocabulary is not, IMO, all that important to improving your writing. So while there's nothing inherently wrong with asking questions about word usage, it's not what I would suggest as your main focus.

    Also, since this is a writing forum, people tend to get cranky if you don't do things like capitalizing your sentences, capitalizing "I", and so on.

    To answer your vocabulary question, I would use 'with', yes. The words are technically used correctly, in the sense that you're using the verb in a way correct for a verb, and the noun in a way correct for a noun, but the nuances don't feel right to me.

    To me, "effrontery" suggests an inappropriate rudeness to someone who outranks you. For example, if you were to tell a master chef that he's cooked the steak incorrectly, then "effrontery" could feel right. If the master chef were to tell you that you've cooked the steak incorrectly (assuming that you're not a master chef), then it wouldn't feel right. The chef might be rude, but unless you somehow outrank him (say, you're the President of the United States, or the chef barged into your home, which is a place where you are of primary importance) then "effrontery" doesn't feel right to me.

    "Disparage" has the wrong flavor for me as well though it's harder to explain why. To me, it has a different meaning from, say, "criticize." It If you say, "No, two plus two equals four, not five," that's a criticism. If you say, "Well, Joe has a little trouble with arithmetic--surprising for an accountant, isn't it?" I would consider that a disparaging remark. I guess that means that to me, "disparage" isn't constructive criticism; it's criticism with a feel that you want to reduce others' opinion of whatever you're criticizing, that you want to pull it down. Now, maybe that's what you meant with your sentence, but in the sentence it somehow feels as if you mean the same as "criticize."

    And all of my babbling above is part of why I think that it's a mistake to try to increase one's vocabulary without also (1) doing a lot of reading and (2) doing a lot of writing. To get the nuances of a word, you need to read that word in context many, many times. To feel the need for a word with those special nuances, you need to do a fair bit of writing, and you need to have the need to find a word that means exactly what you're trying to communicate.
     
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  4. passenger
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    Wow, your reply hit the nail on its head, totally what I was searching for, thanks! I'll definitely take your advise on everything and yes, I'm trying to wield my writing skills.. Any suggestions on a good read? I'm not really into fiction, I'm more of a Napolean Hill meets Socrates and together they write a Paradox. Confusing, tell me about it!
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmm. I read a fair bit of nonfiction, but there's no assurance that my interests (food, gardening, books about society and thought that are more entertaining than serious, etc.) would match yours. What are your interests, hobbies, etc.?

    As another question, what kinds of fiction have you tried? Maybe you just haven't found your favorite category.
     
  6. passenger
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    Growing up I had to many hobbies and interests to count. Today, only my faith, wife and 2 year old son. Pretty bland I know, but I'm content now.

    Sadly, I don't recall a single fiction book. I read some Edger Allan Poe in middle school, but that all I can remember. Mostly due to the fact that I was in the play, hah.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah, but in that case, how can you be confident that you don't like fiction?

    To suggest some fiction at random:

    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams.
    Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey.
    Masters of the House, by Robert Barnard.
    The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis.
    Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers.
    The Warlord of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
    Father of the Bride, by Edward Streeter.

    Nonfiction, equally random:

    American Fried, by Calvin Trillin.
    Why We Buy, by Paco Underhill.
    The Essential Earthman, by Henry Mitchell.
    Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell.
    Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain.
    Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down, by J.E. Gordon.
    La Bonne Table, by Ludwig Bemelman.
    Nassau Street, by Herman Herst.

    I say "random", but I am choosing books that are very different from one another (well, except that I included three murder mysteries and three books about food) and leaving out books that I immediately think might offend your faith, though I don't actually know what that faith is. And I'm choosing books that I find immediately pleasurable to read, rather than ones that require more "chewing."
     
  8. passenger
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    Thank you ChickenFreak, your help is appreciated.
     

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