A clowder of cats—clowder being a collective noun for felines—is a beautiful thing. Not literally—no one wants a gang of cats amassing on their doorstep. But when you’re writing about such an event and get to call them a clowder, it’s pretty cool.
Copy that’s fun to read is fuelled by interesting word choices. A bale of turtles, badling of ducks, or bloat of hippos paint an entertaining picture. Then there’s a business of ferrets. Can’t you just picture them all, gettin’ busy?
Specificity is advisable in multiple parts of speech—nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. And if you land on the perfect noun or verb, you eliminate the need for adjectives and adverbs in the first place. The grammar gods (Strunk and White) frown on them. The adverb in particular has been much maligned, called the crutch of a dull verb, and worse. Consider:
The bloat of hippos were walking slowly after their run-in with a clowder of cats.
The bloat of hippos shambled to safety after their run-in with a clowder of cats.
So, what if you’re not writing a children’s story? You can still reach for the most interesting word at your disposal. This will keep your readers engaged and, well, reading. So get out your thesaurus and brighten up those boring verbs and vague descriptions, and make your copy sing like an ascension of larks.
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