Column: Finding the right words


Commentary by Lorene Burkhart

Words, words, words. They live in our minds, surround us in print and the airwaves and flow from our mouths. The only time we aren’t processing words is when we are sleeping (and sometimes they creep in there, too). Often, the right word escapes us.

Words welcome, hurt, comfort and control us. Some folks simply babble on – as my mother used to say – “a mile a minute.” Others are reticent and hesitate to speak.

Authors use words to create atmosphere and intrigue and provide explanations. While writing my books, I was monitored by my editor who would cross out paragraphs but then would ask for more words where needed to complete a meaningful idea or thought. The children’s books were easy, because each word would have an impact on the child’s thought process. I would visualize the child clapping or laughing. I’m intrigued with how my small great grandson is learning sign language as he learns his words.

While writing 30 second radio spots, I would not use three syllable words in favor of shorter words so there could be more of them. Since I was the broadcaster, I would then read and time them with my stopwatch. This continued with the one-minute radio shows that were sold as Lifestyle Moments. The television shows were more challenging because the words needed to draw the listener to the screen to watch my demonstration.

Word games have become a giant pastime for all ages – crossword puzzles, Wordle and games such as Scrabble. Having fun with words is a great way to keep one’s mind agile.

Writing notes and letters has become less popular with the use of computers and our phones but the receiver is always pleased with the writer’s efforts. So, pick up your pen and get busy!