Friday, June 29, 2012

Friend Friday ~ Beware Lexical Ambiguity by T.C. Worthington

Don't you just marvel how some people seem able to take the simplest concept and make it sound sophisticated and complicated? Okay. Don't do that!

The title of my offering today refers to language, which is unclear, by virtue of being open to interpretation or having more than one meaning.

In many genres, especially mystery and suspense, one might not want to spell out every detail up front. It is, of course, fun to tease and leave a reader wondering what will happen next. Who is the culprit? Which lover will the heroine choose? How can the hero possibly save the day? 

However, too much obscurity or vagueness can leave a reader confused and frustrated. It can also lead to incorrect conclusions on the part of a reader, adding more confusion. That is never good.

Granted, some ambiguity may be influenced by context. Terms, descriptions, or other information might seem vague if used in one way, but clearer if used in another.
Unfortunately, not all authors are skilled in the use of ambiguity and not all plots or situations lend themselves readily to its use.

For the most part, authors should aim for clarity, and avoid leaving readers guessing at their meaning.

Frustrated readers often leave a book unfinished. Worse yet, they may return it for a refund, and might even post an uncomplimentary review. Those are three things no author ever wants!

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