Want to inspire readers with joy, arouse their fear, romance them with love, or does your story need the reader to sink into despair along with your protagonist? This set of posts looks at ways of influencing mood by selecting the ‘right’ words for the job.
“I woke up on my back, looking up at the ceiling. I felt warm along one side and the surface beneath me was hard. My feet were bare.’
A first person account of recovery from a faint, this first example provides the facts, but doesn’t give the reader any sense of the experience.
“Brightness, like white unbroken snow, made me squint; a fine black line cracking its surface as my eyes focussed. My face was too warm on one side and the ground hard but smooth beneath me. I heard the murmur of voices at the same time as I realized I was on my back. A second later, I knew where I was and that my feet were in the air, naked as my knees.”
This sample, from my romantic thriller, ‘Breaking Faith’, provides the reader with a personal experience of the event, allowing them to feel empathy with the character.
If nothing else, I hope the series will enhance our writing with words that more precisely reflect what we’re trying to convey to readers.
I use a thesaurus during editing, when necessary, and prefer the original Roget I started with in the 1980s; it still resides just behind me on my reference shelf. I have other books of word choices, which I consult when the apposite word continues to evade me. But I try initially to acquire that ‘right’ word from the caverns of the scarce grey matter that takes up some of the void within my skull: it’s good mental exercise.
Please keep in mind that any thesaurus will provide alternatives for the idea of the word you seek, but not all those suggestions are true synonyms, so always consider context.