Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Variety of Word Choice

Have you ever read a book where the author only uses 3 words to explain how characters talk? For example, I've read several books that use only "he said", "she stated", and "they spoke" as prefaces to dialogue paragraphs. In fact, there are numerous other words (more interesting and precise) that convey the same basic meaning, but with better depth.

Here are a few examples. Instead of "He said", you could try: accused, advised, announced, asked, asserted, boasted, bragged, commented, complained, denounced, decried, explained, expounded, groused, grunted, heckled, inquired, insinuated, insisted, jeered, joked, lauded, murmured, muttered, nattered, ordered, persuaded, queried, reiterated, revealed, shouted, told, uttered, verbalized, whimpered, whined, whispered, or yelled.

I'm not saying you'll reach the end of your writing project without repeating a few labels for 'said', but at least your writing will be less boring and more descriptive. For example, there's a huge difference between 'whined' and 'ordered', or between 'joked' and 'accused'.

Using the right word will set the scene before you even begin describing the location or characters. The wrong word will make the reader confused about your characterization.

While I've provided synonyms for one specific word in this posting, you can apply the same principle to other areas of your writing.

Here are a few challenges, instead of our usual writing prompts:

  1. Write up an argument between 2 or more characters, without repeating a word that means 'said';
  2. Describe a sunset without using the words 'golden' or 'fiery';
  3. Craft a racing scene without using any version of the word 'speed'. (Avoid: sped, speed, speeding)
Have fun, and keep writing!

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