One time I was somewhere when someone asked me a question about something (can’t recall those details), and I promptly gave a correct response.
“Wow,” she commented. “It’s impressive you remembered that.”
(Yes, I sense the irony to the above content.)
My reply: “I just used a mnemonic device.”
She gave me one of those quizzical looks. “I’ve never even heard of that word before.”
Not everybody takes psychology in high school, which is where I first learned of the mnemonic device and how to use it. The term stuck with me because I do rely on it quite a bit to retain information. Yes, if I’m unable to write down a grocery list for milk, bread, mustard, and hot dogs, I envision a hot dog squatting next to a loaf of bread and milking out mustard.
(Trust me, the more bizarre the imagery, the easier it is to remember.)
The point is I used a word I took for granted, and presented someone with a new experience. It’s not uncommon for writers to have a broad vocabulary, and those within certain genres will be familiar with which terms their readers will recognize that others might not understand.
In sci-fi, you could logically expect the audience can process verbiage like warp, terraforming, and cryogenics. Horror readers are unlikely to recoil when they stumble upon sanguine, apparition, and charnel. And mystery lovers will have the deduced the meanings of alibi, forensics, and modus operandi.
Overall, knowing your audience can help hone writing in more ways than what vocabulary to use. What readers expect can guide writers with polishing that protagonist, reaching a brilliant dénouement, or shining light upon that motif.
Hmm, maybe it would be a good idea to explain those writing terms in a future post. But how to go about remembering to do that? Perhaps I could envision some dude looking at a calendar when a light bulb pops on overhead, and then he can squirt mustard out of it … wait, that’s not right….