A literary masterpiece wins distinction through its unique diction. Diction is the style of speaking or writing determined by one’s choice of words. To me, it is the way Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia differs from The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith. The former paints the myths and culture of Mexico so brilliantly while the latter expresses the myths of small wine-making French towns. Both books are outstanding in different flavors.
A Common Language
Mythologies create a common language. Each culture has a different style, a different set of words often used.
I think the best example of this is how similar Tasha Suri narrated The Books of Ambha compared to S.A. Chakraborty’s The Daevabad Trilogy. They are two completely different stories, but they build on the same mythological creatures. After reading both series, you know they belong to the same culture.
When I read An Ember in the Ashes, I missed that common diction of stories involving ifrits and desert creatures. The mythology should have been the same, but the language was different. It didn’t feel like it belonged to the same mythology as the two series I mentioned earlier. I was surprised by how this affected my enjoyment of the book.
Diction gives cultural definition to stories even those with similar underlying themes. There is a strong underlying theme of family in Gods of Jade and Shadow, The Green Bone Saga, and The Farseer Trilogy. But the dialogue between family members, the choice of words describing the relationship are very different because Mexican, Asian and traditional Western cultural nuances are well-defined in these narratives. The series/stories are as distinct as their covers.
Painting a Picture
Diction also assists in painting a picture of a time and place. Of the vineyards in the wine regions of France or the different provinces of Mexico. It describes people who live in these exotic settings. These choice of words transport you back in time to when you were as young as the main characters of the story enjoying the same activities. Because though they create distinction, they also allow readers to relate to what is happening in the character’s life.
A story’s language is a true paradox. It is artistic expression so I do not think that there is a right or wrong way of implementing diction. This article is only a reader’s preference, an opinion.