(To survey other elements and author quotes, visit the Elements of Fiction home page)

“All nouns are abbreviations. Instead of saying cold, sharp, burning, unbreakable, shining, pointy, we utter ‘dagger’; for the receding sun and oncoming darkness, we say ‘twilight.’” Jorge Luis Borges

“Choosing the right noun means exploring the layers of a word. First, it must be precise, conveying the exact image you are rendering . . . Second, your noun must be rich, its connotations conjuring a realm of emotion and sensation . . . Finally, your noun must be apt—its associations, its link to other words and ideas, must complement your meaning.” Constance Hale

“After verbs, plain nouns are your strongest tools; they resonate with emotion.” William Zinsser