What words will improve your writing?

Two days ago, I posted  an article entitled What words should you cut from your writing? and in the comments, Alex & Bridie suggested I do a follow up post discussing the words that you should use to strengthen your writing.

I immediately agreed and then realised… hey, I have no idea. So I Google’d it 🙂

One of the first articles I found was this one which encourages writers to use words that will make readers feel something. The way to do that is to use power words. The article lists 317 of them! They are words that provoke an emotional reaction – such as fear, greed, security, etc.

Another common theme was to use replacement words. Replace a boring word with something more elegant. There are also a stack of articles that suggest words you should add to your vocabulary, but I don’t think using big words will necessarily improve your writing.

What words do you think should be used to strengthen your writing? I would say there is no real rule… just use a variety of words. What do you think?

About Jodie @ Words Read & Written

Book blogger & aspiring author.
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76 Responses to What words will improve your writing?

  1. sklase says:

    great post. I’m saving the list of words to read over before I write my next story.

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  2. sklase says:

    great post. I’m saving the list of words to read over before I write my next story.

    Like

  3. pauljgies says:

    Elmore Leonard says: If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

    The question of what (or which, they’re both correct) words you should use is much harder than your previous question of what words you should use less. You are absolutely correct that long words and exotic words are not a good in themselves. The sound matters but in prose the sense is king. Tell the bleepin’ story and don’t let your word choice get in the way.

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  4. pauljgies says:

    Elmore Leonard says: If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

    The question of what (or which, they’re both correct) words you should use is much harder than your previous question of what words you should use less. You are absolutely correct that long words and exotic words are not a good in themselves. The sound matters but in prose the sense is king. Tell the bleepin’ story and don’t let your word choice get in the way.

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  5. I find a handy tool on my desk is my Thesaurus. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found a “boring word” in my writing but had no clue with what word I could replace it. My Thesaurus does this precisely and it has saved my writing on more than one occasion. Knowing the definition of a word is one thing, but knowing a different word which has the same or similar meaning but whose sound fits your writing better, is extremely helpful. Thanks for the nice post!

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  6. I find a handy tool on my desk is my Thesaurus. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found a “boring word” in my writing but had no clue with what word I could replace it. My Thesaurus does this precisely and it has saved my writing on more than one occasion. Knowing the definition of a word is one thing, but knowing a different word which has the same or similar meaning but whose sound fits your writing better, is extremely helpful. Thanks for the nice post!

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  7. Of course the right words are important, but sometimes the right words are simple. For example, my 1st POV novel is somewhat sparse in language and reflects the education (or lack of) for my character. To make her spout poetic prose would be out of character. But there’s still an opportunity to “Show, don’t tell” even when using simple language.

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  8. Of course the right words are important, but sometimes the right words are simple. For example, my 1st POV novel is somewhat sparse in language and reflects the education (or lack of) for my character. To make her spout poetic prose would be out of character. But there’s still an opportunity to “Show, don’t tell” even when using simple language.

    Like

  9. Great post. It’s nice to read some positive advice about writing, as so much is about what NOT to do – which can be very helpful too of course, but relentless negatively can sometimes suck some of the joy out of writing, so scared are we of avoiding all those pitfalls..

    As others have said – it’s all about the right word for the job, not necessarily the most obvious or commonplace / bland / clichéd, showing more than telling, and (as per some of your previous posts) avoiding some of those unnecessary / filler words as well as too many adverbs and adjectives. The thesaurus is of course invaluable, but I also find I have to use it wisely – it’s all about the right word, not necessarily the longest / fanciest / most obscure one. Long words for their own sake are unlikely to impress. Sometimes the simpler or more obvious ones do actually work better.

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  10. kcorym says:

    Reblogged this on kcorymwritingandart and commented:
    For the purpose of remembering its there 🙂

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  11. Thanks for the lesson.

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  12. Wayne Lutz says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog and the like. I let the words just flow, then worry about which ones need removal or improving. Lots of both I’m afraid. – Wayne

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  13. M T McGuire says:

    I love using obscure words, in my writing and every day. Dandy and skedaddle are two of my favourites. Indeed when my lad, aged two announced he was spurning his dinner I realised I may use them a little too often. Great post. I enjoyed it. Food for thought.

    Cheers

    MTM

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  14. adamzpease says:

    A useful exercise might be compiling a list like this for yourself. Try and think of words you find beautiful but don’t end up using enough.

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