Monday, February 10, 2014


I was busy writing a scene which read:

…a blush stained her cheek…

The word stained stopped me for a second and I backtracked and crossed it out and wrote “colored” over it. Even as I wrote “stained” I knew that it was the wrong word. It didn’t convey the true meaning of what I wanted my heroine to feel or my reader to witness.

…a blush colored her cheek…

The imagery is much better with my new word choice. Plus, I didn’t want a negative connotation associated with any part of my heroine. Colored gave just the right image.

As writers we make these word choices intuitively. Sometimes we are not even aware that we are changing the words because we are in the zone. Then when we are editing and polishing, again we review our word choices and change some for dramatic effect.

We’ve shared some of our favorite words on the Craft Loop, like loathsome, perch, ethereal, whimsical. Each word choice carries its own meaning, its own identity. And it is those word choices that populate our novels. (FYI, I had colored our novels but changed it to populate our novels. More dramatic, no?) It is those word choices that will create our world, that motivate our characters, that move our reader.

Eliza Doolittle may have been sick of words, but they are an author’s bread and butter. The more words we know the better we can manipulate them and the better our writing.

Alice Orr has two pages of action-words she likes. Thea Devine has a little black book of sexy phrases she likes to refer to. How many of us don’t have “favorite” words somewhere, whether it’s jutted down in a note­book or filed away in our heads. By selecting the correct word, we can stir the five senses in our writing and in our readers, and that makes our job easier (hopefully!) and gets us fans for life (hopefully!).

How and where do we find these words? By reading everything – novels, maga­zines, newspapers, tweets, subway ads. By listening everywhere – at the coffee shop, on Pandora radio, other people’s conversations, TV shows, movies.

So next time you sit down to write or are writing down ideas, watch your word choices. Why did you pick that word over another? What does that word choice convey? Does it pack a punch? Does it delight the senses? Do you love it?###

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