Is Every Writer A Wordsmith?

According to the dictionary I have on my desk – a Cassell Concise Dictionary – the meaning of “wordsmith” is described as “a person skilled in the use of words, esp a writer”. I decided to check a definition as I wanted to add a little extra to my last post about the use of language in some writing. Then I realised one definition isn’t enough, I needed to be sure what I thought ‘wordsmith’ meant was universally accepted. So I dug up a few more definitions.

a fluent and prolific writer. author, writer

one with the ability to effortlessly string together words

a person who works with words; especially : a skillful writer.

a person who has skill with using words, especially in writing

a person, as a journalist or novelist, whose vocation is writing

a word expert, or someone who uses language very well. An example of a wordsmith is an expert on word origins.

Okay, so the last definition did catch me out a little as it veers from what I want to talk about, however, as the URL to explore this definition further didn’t work, I’ve decided not to go into the idea of a wordsmith being an expert of the origins of words themselves.

In fact, for me, these definitions do answer the question, are all writers wordsmiths? Yes they are. Anyone who strings words together to make a readable piece of writing for others, be it prose or poetry, fact or fiction, they are displaying a skill which not every person has. Whether it is an inherent skill or one that’s been acquired after years of practice doesn’t matter. All writers are wordsmiths.

I wonder if there is another word we could use to describe those writers who feel the need to show their readers how intelligent they are? How aware they are of all the unused and unusual words which may be in dictionaries but do not exist in our every day life.

Like all romance writers (I expect), I get very annoyed to hear our genre maligned so readily. Romance writing is trash, it’s poorly written, it’s rubbish, don’t waste your money, any idiot could write a romance, etc etc, we’ve all heard these comments and many more besides. Of course I disagree strongly as I’m sure you do. I find it confusing other popular fiction writing doesn’t appear to face the same disparaging remarks. Is that because most romance readers are female and its easier to put down something a woman does?

Whoa! That’s a whole new ballgame and not one I ever want to get into. I’m sticking to why would a writer need to confuse his readers by being “too intelligent”? Could it be a hidden part of their personality that they feel inferior in their every day life that they have to appear superior within their writing? Who knows? I’m not a psychologist so I can’t speculate. I only know forcing a reader to stop and reach for a dictionary as they read a fictional story has got to be a negative experience for that reader.

I think it must have been fate which saw my husband reading a perfect example of one of these authors so soon after I wrote last weeks post. This factional story was set in Roman times. I consider my husband to be a well read, intelligent man, but he read this story with a dictionary at his elbow.

Am I wrong in assuming at least some of you reading this post don’t immediately know the meanings for some of the words I noted on flicking through his story? I will print an apology in my very next post if anyone comes back and tells me they use these words frequently in their every day lives. Miasma, promontory, crapulous, untrammelled, inexorably, physiognomists, insentient, libation. And they are just a few of the many used. Tsk Tsk. I take you back to George Orwell and his “never use a long word when a short one will do.”

I hope my readers can enjoy my romance stories. I’m not pretending to be a university lecturer, or an English professor. I’m not trying to teach them to better themselves. I just want to entertain them.

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