Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Power of Words

Author Anny Cook recently wrote an interesting article about the power of words, and how overuse of a word diminishes its power.

What she said was particularly relevant after a recent court case here in Australia where a man was not fined for swearing at the police, including using words like “fucking pigs” when referring to the police officers. The court deemed the words to be in “common use” and “not offensive to the ordinary person”.
Repetitive words are the bane of an author’s life. We’ve all read books where every character “moves” across a room. No one ever walks, runs, glides, hurries, marches... Nope, they all move. Boring.
But authors also need to be aware of the emotional impact words can have, greatly enhancing the power of the story. Anny suggested “abandon” as one such powerful word. It does indeed tug at the emotions.
Authors who spend a little while with a thesaurus can not only remove all those incredibly boring repetitive words, but also replace some overused words with much more powerful ones. And remember, a short word can be just as poignant as a long one. After all, haven’t you sometimes felt let down simply because the hero never said, “I love you” to the heroine?

Helen Woodall


anny cook said...

Yes! Exactly!

in pursuit said...

ah, the power of shift+F7!!

and I challenge authors world wide to get through a whole novel without *ever* using the word "said". it can be done!

Helen Woodall: Freelance Editing said...

Yes, in pursuit, but they also cannot use ludicrous words that require the reader to check a dictionary. That really pulls a reader out of the story!