Thursday, 14 April 2011


Language is the tool of the writer.  All right, that’s stating the obvious.  Or is it?  Some writers used words, maybe a lot of them, but they don’t necessarily explore the richness of the English language.  A poor or limited choice of words can make for weak writing; well-chosen words strengthen one’s writing.

Action verbs and descriptive nouns make your writing more powerful.  They also force you to be clear, precise and selective in your selection of words.  Personally I enjoy searching for exactly the right word to convey the image or emotion I’m trying to convey.  Here is one simple example from the latest chapter of my WIP (work in progress):   I wrote ‘to improve his image’ but something told me this was too weak.  What else could I use - advance, enhance, promote, reinforce, strengthen?  All these are synonyms of ‘improve’ and all have slightly different shades of meaning. In the end I went for ‘boost’ – a subtle difference but it was the word I needed here.

You can do the same with nouns.  Far better to choose a strong noun which is vivid and descriptive in its own right, without needing any clarifying adjectives.  Why use ‘confused thoughts’ when you can simply use ‘confusion’?

Language isn’t just a matter of selecting the right words though.  It’s also the way in which you put those words together.  It’s the style, flow and cadence of your writing – your own individual and unique voice.   


  1. So true, Paula. Amazing how two people can write the same story yet have it read differently.

    A good thing to keep in mind when those rejection letters arrive. It's all a matter of taste and if that editor/agent doesn't like the way you string those words together, another editor/agent might.

  2. Language is perhaps humanity's greatest invention. Through it we better understand ourselves and each other. Hostile words show us our darker side, while gentle words soothe our souls.

    You've made excellent points on language. It's not just about choosing the right word, but choosing it for the right occasion, too.

    Pleasure to meet you via the A-Z Challenge!

  3. Thanks, mood, good to see you visiting me again.

    Very good point, Toni - all editors have their own likes and dislikes.

    Hi, Jeffrey. You're right that the context of the words you choose is so important.

  4. There is such a fine line when looking for the exact perfect word. Good L subject.