Word Choice

Word choice is important. As writers we write things. We build worlds, actions, and people using words as our building blocks. We build stories. To do that we need to use the right words. Words have meaning. They also have nuances and connotations beyond the basic meaning. Someone can run. That’s a basic meaning. It means a person moved fast on foot. That same someone may need to get somewhere fast, so they might run, but they may also race, dash, or fly. Maybe the need to get somewhere isn’t as imperative so they jog, sprint or rush.

Choosing the right word can convey more than the mere action. It can give a sense of urgency. It can help define a character. Debbie ran to the store. She needed to shop. Debbie raced to the store implies she had had an urgent need for something at the store. Maybe Debbie just raced everywhere. Maybe she has a nervous energy that she just has to burn off.

Consider this: Carla watched Debbie get ready for work and looked at the clock. They had an hour. Now compare that with this: Carla watched Debbie race around getting ready for work and looked at the clock. They had an hour. The latter tells you Debbie is someone who worries about being late. It also conveys a little bit of Carla as well. She is more relaxed. Your words can convey a lot.

Sometimes you need to choose words to make dialog more realistic. “I cannot fathom your reasons for your actions.” Few people talk that way. Most would say something like, “I don’t understand your behavior.” Of course, if you have a pompous character the first bit of dialog would be appropriate, if exhausting to read.

By all means write the words that come to mind – in your rough draft. You can fix it in revision. You can fix anything in revision, except a bad premise. I’ve been reading some fan fiction and thinking how I would write the story differently. One of the stories referenced ‘a little age’ which I took to mean ‘a young age’. That could be due to the author writing in a second language for which I give kudos. I couldn’t do that. Sometimes I have a hard enough time writing in my native English, or American English, I should say.
Whatever language you use, just remember that words have connotations as well as meanings. Like colors, they have hues. Use the correct word and the story shines like a masterpiece painting. The wrong word can dull it. That’s a lot of pressure, I know, but that’s what revision is for. Read your work. Read it aloud. Read it again and decide if it says what you want it to say. That’s what revision is for.


I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

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© Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den, 2010-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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