“I would never say ‘feline,’” she said.
She was an entrepreneur, the kind who thinks of a dozen ideas before breakfast and puts two of them together in a way that makes money before lunch. She says what she means and means what she says.
“Right,” I said. The story was about three pages long and involved her first pet, a kitten she got in sixth grade that died the day after her first divorce was final. It was fluffy and gray, and she named it Smoky.
Just once in those three pages, I changed “cat” to “feline” because the text seemed clogged with “kitten,” “cat,” and “Smoky.” Since I was the one sitting in front of the computer screen, I was writing for the text as seen by the eye.
But she was right. “Feline” threw off the cadence and made the voice inauthentic. A story, written well, is as much for the ear as the eye, and writing the story well is what it’s all about.