Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
We must make word choices everywhere. Maybe word choice is not so important in conversations where specific words are soon forgotten and only the overall message is saved in the brain, but word choice becomes more important when it is delivered in writing. Have you ever read something you wrote the day before – a sentence, a scene, an entire chapter – then realized it makes no sense?
I buzz through a first draft and leave word choice repair for the revision (which I’m currently working on with my middle grade mystery). After critiquing a friend’s manuscript this week and marking Word Choice in many places, I started to think I was being too picky. Then I read Mark Twain’s quote, on the same day that I saw the first lightning bug of the season. Word Choice is only one tool in manuscript writing. But I don’t want to turn any cute lightning bugs into lightning in my manuscripts.