How To Write Better: Borrowing From Chemistry
Better Writing Through Chemistry
In 1935, Dupont promised they’d bring us better living through chemistry. Today, the phrase is used ironically for movie and album titles and most especially to describe recreational drug use. Acknowledging that chemistry has improved our lives is bromidic.
Less well known is that the chemical lexicon, demonstrably miscible with our day-to-day vocabulary, has improved our language as well. Who wouldn’t prefer to read of the combustion when lovers meet, how magnetic is her hold on him, how malleable he is in her hands, and not merely that he is drawn to her? How much better to acknowledge that their love evaporated over time and that only dross remained?
Sharing a Common Language
I am not a chemist. I am a writer. I don’t even move in the same orbits as chemists. I have, however, taken chemistry courses where my greatest achievement was making the top two-thirds’s of the class possible. But I did come to appreciate C.P. Snow’s observation in The Two Cultures, that solving the world’s problems would be much easier if scientists and non-scientists shared a common language.
Like most writers, I am a natural word-lover, and like many writers, an inveterate procrastinator. (See explanation for You’re My Dawg, Dog: A Lexicon of Dog Terms for People.) So, for my avoidant amusement, and to see to what degree we have that common language, I started compiling a list of ordinary words derived from chemistry.
If You Can’t Write, Procrastinate
I will offer them in this blog along with my personal, hopefully entertaining, gloss. With many projects to ignore, over time the list has lengthened, and could probably be longer still. May it be a catalyst for your own fun procrastinations and if any of them includes chemical vocabulary finds, that you will kindly send them along.
I’ll start with the A’s and post a few here to give you the idea or see this post on Medium for more.
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