April A to Z Day 4: Diction

Diction is a fancy term for word choice and phraseology.

It’s an important element of writing, because your diction affects the tone and flow of your writing. If you want to see what I mean, take a chapter from The Lord of the Rings and compare it to a chapter from Game of Thrones.

Your diction should be a matter of conscious choice, because it affects how your audience judges your work (I’m thinking of adjectives like pretentious, arrogant, genuine, melodramatic, honest, etc.)

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Unless I have some specific purpose that requires a different mode of diction, I try and stick to everyday language, avoid clichés, and be careful with phrases that offend for no good reason (for example, I never say “you throw like a girl” unless I put it into the mouth of an adolescent boy or a sexist adult).

That’s because every piece of writing I produce is an appeal to someone. For the most part, I want my writing to come across as an attempt at conversation. I want it to give the (honest) impression that I’m real; that I don’t stand on formality; and that I respect everyone, both as human beings and as individuals with their own perspectives.

I try not to talk like a theorist unless I’m talking to theorists, and I try not to use formal diction unless I’m writing a formal paper. Here’s an early attempt of mine to blog about theoretical social media stuff without sounding like a theorist. I don’t think I succeeded. This one, which I wrote to share how I learned to use Twitter with people who are starting from scratch like I did, is much more readable.

image from Mindstirmedia.com, pinned by Part Time Monster


About Gene'O

Compulsive writer, amateur photographer, and blogaholic. Also an evil genius.

16 thoughts on “April A to Z Day 4: Diction

  1. Harliqueen says:

    A great post and a good point.


  2. Diction is a fantastic D word 🙂

    Do you think diction is synonymous with voice, or are you speaking more specifically about vocabulary and sentence structure?


    • Gene'O says:

      I don’t think it’s synonymous with voice. It’s more about sentence structure and word choice, but it does affect voice. Thanks for stopping by!


  3. You should do a post about Audience…

    I try to write my blog posts similar to how I speak, or at least similar to how I think and think about speaking. Somewhere in there is the introverted line that speaks the truth.

    Reigning that in a bit for my fiction writing is only somewhat problematic; some of it is about finding the right voice for that where my way of writing blends right in.

    It’s also about how rough it is: I put more time into editing emails I send professionally than just about anything. So maybe the audience really does matter…


  4. Absolutely true! Such a great post!


  5. I’ll admit, if I don’t like the cadence of the writer, or if I can’t hear his “voice” with clarity and honesty, I won’t read on.


  6. I constantly fret about this portion of my writing. I worry about every little thing, but I always want a reader to feel my personality come through. I want them to feel like we are having a real time conversation. I’m not sure all of my followers are there because they like music and blurry photos, but I hope they stay because they relate to me. Excellent post, really enjoyed it.


  7. This is really important and not an easy skill to master. It is very easy to fall into cliché and it’s a conscious effort not to. Diction is also important in business communication. Just as it is important to avoid cliché in blogging unless it is deliberately part of the dialogue as you have said, it is important to avoid jargon in business communication, depending on your audience.


    • Gene'O says:

      Yes, jargon is one of my pet peeves.

      I agree with you about diction in business communication. In business, the use of language can be a status-marker. It can affect your chance of getting a promotion or landing a client.

      And you’re right, it’s not an easy skill to master. Just learning to be alert to it takes a lot of practice and reading.


  8. […] they are different concepts. Tone is about the author’s attitude as expressed by things like diction, syntax, and point-of-view. Mood is about how a piece of writing affects the audience. So, tone has […]


  9. […] 1:  Audience – Biographical – Canon – Diction – […]


  10. […] 1:  Audience – Biographical – Canon – Diction – […]


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