Please note that some of the descriptive words in this table are found in more than one box. This is because they hold two different descriptive meanings.
Sometimes it’s nice to have many in one place rather than always resorting to look up single words at a time. When you are in the middle of writing a piece of fiction and you want a unique way to describe something, your mind can go blank. Here is a table to help you.
When you are writing a story, whether a book length story or a short story, be as clear in your language use as you can. Get rid of redundancies and use of too many words to tell or describe something, when a few words will suffice.
Too Wordy: Joe walked as slow as he possibly could on purpose because he knew it would make me angry. Cleaned Up: Joe trudged down the path. He knew it would irritate me.
In the first sentence too many words are used to say what one word can do. By using the word trudge, we get a clearer picture of how slow Joe is walking without the extras. Then breaking it down into two sentences makes it easier to read.
Too Redundant and Excessive Language: The quarrelling couple downstairs worked my last nerve, I thought. The whole situation was making me angry to the point I wanted to go down stairs and tell them to stop. Tightened Up: The quarrelling couple downstairs worked my last nerve. Hmm, maybe I’ll pound on their door and tell them to stop.
In the first sentence we don’t need the words I thought because we already know the character is thinking the words we just read. It’s one of those unwritten understandings. The reader just knows. That is what’s called excessive language. We also have redundant language in that sentence. The reader already knows the character is angry so the words, The whole situation was making me angry to the point…, is not needed.
Is there a right or wrong way to say something? Of course. But, not everyone will like what you say. You can’t please everyone. There will always be somebody who doesn’t like what you wrote. Maybe you wrote something regarding a certain topic and Person A didn’t agree with your ideas. Spoiler alert, here again, not everyone will agree with you. Let’s say Person A sends you a message saying you should have said “this” or “that”. And maybe Person A points out where you could go to get more information that would prove what you wrote was wrong. Then they tell you that maybe you need to correct what you wrote accordingly.
Uh, no. If you feel strongly about your words, stick with them. If it’s fact filled nonfiction, and your research is documented correctly, stick with your stance. Your job is not to please everybody who reads your writing. Your job is to write. Stick to your words.
There will be times when you want to respond back to someone who “stabs” your writing in the “heart”. It will make you angry/irritated. But, before you respond back to them, take a deep breath. Let it out slow and take five minutes to think of an appropriate response. Then, tactfully, respond to them (if you choose to).
Your pen (or keyboard) is your sword, and the words are the blood that’s shed as a result of wielding your words onto the page. Words have impact. It doesn’t matter what that impact is. Whether they create horror, harshness, love, peace, or fear; they have impact. You are the person in charge of creating that impact. So what kind of thrust to you want to use to create that impact?
You can make something everyday appear abnormal, or you could choose something abnormal or bazaar to appear normal or everyday. It’s all in the words you choose. How you wield your words is up to you. It’s your story, your voice, your personality. Write the words you want to write the way YOU want to write them.
I’ve talked about emotions before and how to convey them within the story text. But here are some lists of helpful words depicting various emotions instead of using the word(s) confused, sad, strong, happy, angry, surprised, energized, hurt, confident, and fearful:
Any of you out there who are long distance runners know that, when it comes to running, it takes endurance. You run until you reach your goal and you don’t stop. I’m not a long distance runner, but I have run distances up to 3 miles. Yes, there were times I wanted to stop. What I did was play mind games with myself by saying I’ll stop at the next corner. Then I would keep going at the next corner and say ‘ok, the next telephone pole I’ll stop’. Again, I’d keep going. I would do this all the way to the end. Eventually, I wouldn’t need to play these little games with myself because my body would get used to it.
The same thing goes for writing a novel. There are times you want to stop before you reach your goal of whatever word count you promised yourself you would write that day. So, you play a mind game. Let’s say you fixed yourself a goal of writing 1000 words everyday starting Monday. Monday comes and you are 500 words into your writing and you want to stop. You tell yourself, ‘ok, I can write 100 more words and I’ll stop.’ You accomplish this, except now when you reach the 600 word mark, you can’t stop because you’re on a roll. You keep going. All at once you look at your word count number and you have 1200 words. YAY!!! You went over your goal. Does this happen every time? No. If you find you just can not think of anything past the 500 word mark, then stop and come back to it later that day. Who said you have to write 1000 words in one sitting? As long as you reach your goal by the end of that day.
There will be down time when you need time to think about your story and what should come next. I call this ‘Planning Time’. So…plan away. I consider my walks as part of my planning time because it gives me time to relax and think about my story. Much can come from one’s brain when they relax. Another thing that will help keep up your writing endurance is by talking about your story with someone else. My daughter helps me with that. Let me tell you…it helps in a BIG way.
Writing your novel doesn’t have to be a chore, so make it fun. Run those fingers across the keyboard or your pencil across the paper. Let your brain run in several different directions as it thinks of new ideas for your story. Endure. You can do it.
You’re walking with a friend in a crowded amusement park. In your pocket are some coins, but what you don’t realize is you have a hole in your pocket. The next time you reach in to get them, you may only have a couple quarters left. The hole sucked the rest of your coins and out it went without you knowing it. Well, think of the words you write with as your hole and the reader as your coins. You want to keep your readers hooked and reading, not lost and motivated to put your story down. So…..how do you keep your readers from falling out of that hole?
Your wording should be tightened up, and condensed. In other words, don’t be wordy. It shouldn’t take you several words to get your point across. Here are some examples:
Wordy: The rushing wind hit me in the face and tossed my hair around.
Much Better: The wind slapped my hair.
In this example, both sentences pretty much say the same thing but number 1 uses more words to get to the point. Number 2 is straight forward AND it implies the wind is hitting the person in the face without having said that it is.
Wordy: In the forest it was calm. The sunbeams reached their rays through the trees, and the light was speckled throughout.
Better: Sunbeams fingered through the calm forest leaving speckled light throughout.
Here again all the words in number 1 aren’t needed in order to paint a picture of the setting. It’s boring because too many words are used to describe what few words can actually do. Not only that, but an auxiliary verb like ‘was’ only tells you about it. It doesn’t add to the picture. It takes away from it. Number 2 leaves you with a clear, strong picture in your mind.
Remember something though. When you’re writing your story, write your story. Concentrate on that. THEN, once you have your first draft finished, go back to the beginning and focus on the particulars and details like wordiness.
When it comes to writing tag lines, such as ‘said John,’ sometimes we need other words to say instead of the word ‘said’. Why? Because said gets too monotonous. And in this writer’s opinion, it can ruin the flow. It kind of takes the realism out of the dialogue. So…..what are some alternatives? See the list below.
There are much more than these, but you get the idea. Notice these words dig deeper into the mood/emotions of the speaker. That’s what you want because, what this does, is touch the readers’ emotions. That’s what you want.
How picky are you with your words, when you write? Do you have to choose just the right ones in order for you to move on? Or do you belt them out there onto the page and rework them later? The first way can stop you up and prevent you from making headway at a steady pace. Because what happens is this: a creative idea for your story may have popped into your head, and you might forget it by the time you’re finished making your wording what you ultimately want it to be.
Get the words on paper first along with your ideas and worry about making them just perfectly right later. You can also make notes for yourself along the way about what you want to go back and fix. Your draft will still be there waiting for you.