Specific Words

We’ve all been told, over and over again, to use active verbs instead of passive.  Active verbs make our writing more dynamic, less flat.  M. L. Keller, on her blog, defined what is and what isn’t a passive verb–and it’s not always what we think.  http://themanuscriptshredder.com/whats-the-deal-with-passive-voice/  The thing is, though, a strong verb makes for a strong sentence, a clear image.

I’ve been writing a free romance that I’m loading, chapter by chapter, on my webpage.  And when I rewrite my work, for some reason, I’ve been paying more attention to word choices.  I forget that sometimes in the day in and day out job of trying to get words on paper.  But using specific words instead of pronouns or just okay choices makes a striking difference on how the story reads.  And I’m not sure that we concentrate on word choice enough.

We all get weary as we slog through a novel.  At least, I know I do.  There are lots of things to consider.  Is the story moving forward?  Have we gone off on any tangents, gotten distracted by something that doesn’t matter?  Does each scene advance the plot?  Do the transitions work?  Is there emotional impact?  Is the pacing too fast?  Did we tell too much too soon?  Or too slow?  Are we mired in quicksand?  Is our protagonist taking action to solve his problem or just reacting?

Everything in a story matters.  Dialogue.  Setting.  Angst.  And words.  It’s hard enough to keep the plot and pacing on the right track.  But the words we choose matter, too.  Red is vague.  Crimson or scarlet is more specific.  Words are the tiny building blocks that make a sentence that joins with more sentences to make a paragraph, that lead to a page and a chapter and a book.  Vague words don’t excite.  Sometimes, they confuse.  The exact right word is a minor miracle.  It can create the image we’re striving to convey.

The next time your fingers tap the keys, I hope the words flow for you.  Not just any words, but the specific words that bring your story to life.  Happy Writing!


My webpage.  And I just put up chaper 15:  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

My author’s Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

twitter:  @judypost

4 thoughts on “Specific Words

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s