Choose the Right Words

While I’m watching mental fireworks (no real ones, too much fire risk), enjoy this post from the past. I think the advice is still good.


Earlier, we looked at ways to be more clear in your writing by eliminating redundancies and overwriting, and choosing simple words when appropriate.

Now, let’s look at how the right word also helps your reader grasp your meaning.

Alive or dead?

Perfect words are the difference between writing that leaps off the page and writing that just lies there, waiting for resuscitation. Words that show are more powerful than words that tell.

Many times using words that evoke the senses (taste, sight, hearing, touch, smell) adds much-needed pizzazz to your writing and engages readers. In the July issue of ACFW Journal, award-winning author Deborah Raney offers great advice on how to make your readers’ senses come alive in your writing.

As important as sensory involvement is, there is more to choosing the perfect word. Or, as Mark Twain said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

Sometimes the right word will fall naturally into your manuscript—particularly if you’re an avid reader. Writers who read a lot (note: the word alot does not exist and is therefore never correct) have a greater storehouse of words to draw from.

But more often than not, writers have to search for the perfect word. Here is great information from the website, On Blogging Well, that provides six ways to do that.


Do you have tips for enhancing clarity? Share them!


Michael Ehret, for Writing on the Fine Line

Images: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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4 thoughts on “Choose the Right Words

  1. One of the best helps I’ve found for finding the “right” word is WordWeb. It will work in conjunction with Microsoft Word. Put your cursor on the word in question, hit a couple of hot keys, and the application pops up. The free version is more than adequate, but for those who want the full Monty, the Pro version is cheap. Highly recommended. (www.wordweb.com)

  2. I’ve been known to spend a half hour looking for just the right word or way to phrase something. Like Jim, I use WordWeb Pro. It’s terrific, but my favorite thesaurus is the Flip Dictionary. It’s a MUST for writers in my opinion. It doesn’t just give you synonyms, it gives you types, too.

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