Searching for the Right Words? Tip #11

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Hoping to inspire readers with joy, arouse their fear, romance them with love? Or, maybe your story needs 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.Example:

“I held Leigh’s hand and looked at him. He felt the same as me. I wanted it to last forever.”

This is a bit spare. A little more emotional content should allow the reader to empathise. This is a romance, and emotional content is supreme in that genre.

Let’s try:

“I squeezed Leigh’s hand in mine, barely daring to look into his face in case it should reveal the same emotions I felt, or in case it should not. When I did look at him, I knew he felt exactly like me. It was a moment I wanted to last forever.”

This sample provides readers with more detail, allowing them to empathise with the character. It’s an excerpt from my romantic thriller, ‘Breaking Faith’.

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 lives just behind me on my reference shelf. Other books of word choices, which I consult when the apposite word continues to evade me, live beside it. But first I try to gather that ‘right’ word from the scarce grey matter that takes up some of the void within my skull: it’s good mental exercise.

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.

I came across an interesting variation on this topic on a great blog I follow. John Yeoman’s site is full of fascinating posts on writing. You can visit it by clicking here.

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