Saturday, 18 April 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015 - Emotions & Reactions - P is for Perspicacity (writing discussion & fiction)

A to Z Challenge 2015 - Emotions & Reactions









This year for the A to Z Challenge, I'm investigating emotions and reactions and their use to in writing. So, I'll be talking about my first thoughts as a writer when I think about the words we use to describe emotions and my experience of their use in literature.

perspicacity
perspicacity: the quality of having a ready insight into things; shrewdness.

I love the word perspicacity, pretty much because I have so much trouble saying it - it's a tongue twister of a word - pur - spi - cass - it - ee. I first came across this word in a children's movie, but for the life of me, I can't remember which one! I just remember being really impressed with the word for its own sake - it was a while before I learnt what it meant. :)

Thanks to that early association with a child, I've always felt perspicacity is the lighter side of shrewdness. If a character is perspicacious then they have a good handle on what is going on, but (and this is just for me when I'm using the word) not in a bad way. I want perspicacity to be a good word - which is illogical, because it comes with no such connotations, but that's just me!

Lizzie Bennet (yes I'm returning to Austen), is a woman of great perspicacity. She is intelligent, she views the world with a long-suffering knowledge that not all of her family have such insights, but she uses her knowledge for positive things in the main - she is not spiteful with her observations. Jane, on the other hand, is far too good and sweet to be shrewd.

Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, too, is perspicacious. She observes, she catalogues, she analyses, she slots into her 'small village' counterparts, and using nothing more than her experience, she solves the crime. Her wit is as sharp as any professional detective, but she has an added bonus of being able to see outside that policeman's world. She isn't afraid to make her comparisons, to understand the world through the window of her quiet little village, St Mary Meade. Can you tell, I like Miss Marple? :)

Like any other response, perspicacity is even more interesting when it can be fooled. Elementary played a blinder with the plot around Irene Adler and Moriarty, defeating even Holmes' insightfulness. No, I'm not going to say what the plot involved, but I suggest you go watch this excellent show and find out for yourself, if you don't know.

I do like shrewdness in characters, although, not for its own sake, then it becomes disdain when others do not share those insights. No, I like my own take on perspicacity, that it's shrewdness without the superiority complex.

QUESTION: Do you prefer shrewdness in your heroes or your villains - when is it most interesting?

~

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27 comments:

  1. That is a new word for me. Woo, I learned something today. =)

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Member of C. Lee's Muffin Commando Squad
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

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    1. It's a good word, a fun word, a 'make sure your teeth are in right' word ;P

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  2. Good word. I think it would be perspicacious for the hero to see things from the villain's point of view, understand their motivations, then use that to outwit them.

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  3. Right kind of shrewdness can add entertainment.

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  4. I'll have to practice pronouncing this... You are right, it should be a positive word :)

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

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    1. :) I've been trying ever since I first heard it and I still don't get it right most of the time! ;P

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  5. Absolutely--but it has to be matched with a little bit of softness to make the character more likable. I don't know how to spell that word still, even after reading it here, so I'm avoiding retyping it in this comment!

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    1. LOL! Prudent ;) Yes, shrewdness on its own can come across badly, it does need to be tempered, you're right.

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  6. That is a great word, and a new one for me too! It's going to be one of those words that get stuck in my head, and I just repeat it to myself (that's not weird...).

    I do like shrewdness in characters, and like you, think it's best without the superiority complex. So I will consider perspicacity a positive word as well. ;)

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    1. Not weird at all! ;P

      Yay for perspicacity being positive! :)

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  7. I was hoping this was just a new word to me. I would've been embarrassed! I like it, though. I think shrewdness can be a nice quality in certain characters...if it's done right like with Lizzie.

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    1. LOL! I like learning new words, I've learnt a few from Nick Wilford and Patricia Lynne this A to Z. :)

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  8. I would rather have shrewdness in my hero over villian. Want the good guy to win, LOL :) I love this word too. I haven't ever heard of it but I do love the way some words sound; this would be fun to say!

    betty

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    1. I see you point :) And yeah, words should sound like you mean it! ;P

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  9. This is the weekend before the last full week of A to Z. You’re amazing for staying with us this long. Thanks for your commitment. You’re almost there. This event only happens once a year, so get ready for the home stretch!

    Stephen Tremp
    A to Z Cohost
    P is for Paranormal Vs. Supernatural

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  10. Actually like a balance of both.
    http://sytiva.blogspot.com/

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  11. Drat, now I've found yet another great blog to follow. A-to-Z is killing me ;-) way to many great blogs and not enough time. If I only had the perspicacity to pick the top 20 or so I might actually catch up.

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    1. LOL (I saw what you did there) - I know what you mean, I have a spreadsheet of blogs I'm hopping this A to Z, and it only seems to be getting longer! ;P

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  12. Hi Sophie - I love perspicacity (then I spell it wrong because of you phonetically writing it out - all your fault!?!) ... it's a great word and one I search for regularly ... some people definitely have that trait .. and it'd be such a useful one for characters - can quite see that .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Soreeee! :) It is a great word though!

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  13. I had to look up perspicacity! It is a good word to know.

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    1. I like it, it sounds right for what it means :)

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