Tips on Word Choice No.21: Ruled by Intellect or Emotion?

English: Keep Calm and Carry On UK government ...
English:  UK government poster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Certain words/phrases can induce fairly specific responses in readers. As writers, we all know this, but do we use the power of emotion in our work?

For these few weeks, I’m looking at something subjective: how to choose between emotional and intellectual words for effect. You won’t always agree with me, of course; you’re writers. But, hopefully, my suggestions will get the thought processes going.

In this series I’m looking at the difference between words that seem intellectual as opposed to those that evoke a more emotional response. How you use them is obviously up to you. The point is that the alternatives have the same, or very similar, meanings, but their effect upon the reader can be markedly different. I’ve made some suggestions here, but I’m sure you can think of others.

Intellectual: Exceptional

Emotional: Marvellous

‘Harry is an exceptional student; we shall have to supervise his growth at every turn.’

‘Harry, you’re a marvellous wizard; you could do anything you want with that wand.’

Intellectual: Is Provided With

Emotional: Has

‘Government is provided with all the facts needed to rule efficiently and fairly; it is greed, self-interest and prejudice that prevents it so doing.’

‘The Government has all it needs to do a good job, but those in power don’t give a shit for the rest of us; we’re just consumers and buyers for their big business cronies.’

Intellectual: Omit

Emotional: Leave Out

‘If we omit the full truth from our dogma, it will provide the gullible with sufficient evidence to allow them to persuade themselves they are being pious and good.’

‘Look, it’s simple: we leave out the facts that don’t agree with what we want and the stupid buggers will believe every word because they’re too lazy to think for themselves.’

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