The Importance of Word Choice

The main tool in a writer’s toolbox is the word. Choosing the right word to do the job is important. You need to be careful to choose the word that works the best in any given situation. There are several things to consider in choosing your words. First of all, there is the meaning. Many words have more than one meaning. There are nuances to each meaning as well.

Meanings have both negative and positive connotations. There is a spectrum of meanings ranging from bad to good. These are the nuances I’m talking about. For example, when a character has an injury, you need to choose the right word to show how bad the injury is. The word pain works well enough. It’s generic though. Hurt is another word you can use. Is the character in pain or hurt bad, or are they in agony? Agony usually means that the pain is very bad. That’s how it works. In the rough draft, you and write that the character is in pain. That’s fine, but the final draft should show how much pain your character is in.

Then there are the words that sound the same, but don’t mean the same. The words to, too, and two are prime examples. Make sure you are using the correct word to convey what you mean. Those words sound alike, but have completely different meanings. Don’t rely on spell check to find those words. It will only tell you if you spelled the word right, not if it’s the correct word. That is part of word choice. Make sure the word you choose means what you think it does. If you are uncertain, look it up.

There are many things to consider when choosing a word to use in your writing. You need to consider if it has a positive connotation or negative. Which is the impression you want? Make sure you pick the word that gives you the impression you want.

Then there is the description factor, like with the word pain. How much pain? If you need another word to convey it, you might want to pick a different word that may convey the level you want. A character went out and had fun. What kind of fun? Did they have a blast? Or a good time? Choosing the right word on the spectrum implied by ‘fun’ is important. Is your character in pain? Does it have a wound that stings? Or is the character in agony?

The word you choose should incite a feeling in the reader that is what you intended. So choose your words with care. Your writing will be stronger. Your readers will be more engaged. That’s what you want. In the final draft, we want to engage our readers. Your word choice has the power to pop your readers out of the story if you pick the wrong word. It also has the power to suck them into the story and immerse them. So choose your words with care.


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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Posted in General Opinion, Writing Techniques

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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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