On Writing 1: Direction of Movement

I’ve decided to occasionally not only write…my writing, but also write about writing. Anyway, I was thinking recently about how different ways of saying things can have different connotations, which are sometimes on what we build the images in our minds as we read.

Now, for a writer, much of this happens subconsciously, but it is something we should think about.

Let me start of with a visual example:

Is this person about to sit down, or are they beginning to stand up? We can’t really be sure either way.

Now for actual writing examples:

I looked down at the water. It was now at my ankles.

In this example, we don’t really know whether the water is rising or lowering.

How about now?

I looked down at the water. It was already above my waist.

In this example, we immediately assume the water is rising, even though that isn’t explicitly stated. Why? Because the word “above” is used. Above indicates that it is “higher”, and from that we infer that the water is rising, even though it may not actually be. Similarly,

I looked down at the water. It was below my knees now.

That implies that the water is lowering, because the word “below” is used.

Not being aware of this can cause confusion for the reader, so it is something that writers must be aware and cautious of.

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