Wordsmithing and Perspective

Pietro Aretino, the patron saint (or devil) of wordsmithing. He excoriated his patron's rivals.
Pietro Aretino, the patron saint (or devil) of wordsmithing. He excoriated his patron’s rivals.

People sometimes ask what I mean when I say wordsmithing. I can’t always think of a good example, but I’ve found one in
American Canopy by Eric Rutkow (p.65). Talking of backwoodsmen and frontier hunters, Rutkow observes, “They were no longer the antisocial vagrants of Crèvecoeur, but the embodiment of resourcefulness and bravery, an American original.”

Fair Twist

Without factual change, the backwoodsmen have morphed from antisocial vagrants to embodiments of resourcefulness and bravery. The fact is they remain backwoodsmen or frontier hunters, but the wordsmith converts them from vagrants to heroes or visa versa—shifting the reader’s perception by his descriptive word choice, not by a change in facts.

Style

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