Tag Archives: Technical terminology

Z is for Zygoma


by Lillian Csernica on April 29, 2013

Most of the people you meet will have a zygoma. You have one. I have one. Supermodels are often known for their zygomatic arches. I have read one description of the zygoma as being slanted like the blades of a scissors.

Do you, at this point, have any idea what a zygoma is? If you’re not in some field related to medicine, it’s a safe bet that you don’t.

The zygoma is the cheekbone.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “What could the zygoma possibly have to do with writing technique?” I’m glad you asked that. The answer is simple.

  1. Do not use technical jargon unless you can create a context that communicates the meaning to the reader.
  2. You can explain the term in dialogue, but please don’t make it one character lecturing another. Dramatize!

It’s important to write vivid and realistic detail. If your characters have advanced degrees or they’re specialists in their fields, they will probably be using some technical jargon in their interior narrative, their dialogue, or any writing they do in the course of the story (journal, letters, memos, etc.). Context is everything.

Let’s make up a word: rumtinkflan.

Noun: My mechanic told me that it takes three weeks to get a rumtinkflan. There’s only one factory in Austria that still makes them.

Verb: If you try to rumtinkflan me again, I will take that serving fork and show you the color of your liver!

Adjective: The roses really are quite rumtinkflan this year, don’t you think?

Adverb: “Please, Jonathan, you can’t leave now!” she cried rumtinkflanly.

Yes, this is very silly. Does it make the point? I hope so. Put the technical jargon, foreign word, medical term, or invented jibberish into a context that gives the reader some clues about form and function.

This brings me to the end of the A to Z Challenge! Thank you all for joining me on this, my first blogging challenge! Please stay tuned for the Challenge Reflections post, where I shall give my post-game thoughts and analysis.

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