Saturday, January 13, 2018

Flavoring—The Difference Word Choice Can Make

Flowery prose fell out of favor long ago; it's way too sweet. And what are commonly called ten-dollar words are often inadvisable; they're way too heavy. Attempting to capture the attention of readers today with either ploy is more likely to yank them from a story before it’s hardly begun.

Spice It Up a Little—The Difference Word Choice Can Make
Ensuring word choices have enough flavor, however, makes sense. And one more round of self-editing to add more flavor to words or phrases more bland than they need to be can do the trick. 

Does Anise give her seat to an elderly woman on the bus? Maybe she can relinquish the space instead, if she'd been inclined to hold on to it at first.

Does Dunkin’s date walk across a room when she spots him waiting for her? Perhaps she glides or sashays—depending on her grace or attitude, of course.

Do the children in the church choir know the words of their song? Maybe they’ve memorized the lyrics.

Did the boss tell everyone at the office he was retiring? Or did he announce his intention?

Those alternative words and phrases still might not be the best choices, but you get the point.

Here’s an exercise for you: Open the book you’re currently reading and peruse the first few paragraphs. Do any words or phrases seem too bland or downright flat to you than necessary? If so, what words or phrases would you substitute?

This idea is not meant to criticize any author, and often the more straightforward and simple word choice is best. But sometimes a little more flavoring in the words chosen can push a book’s interest factor up a notch, right from the beginning.

Now, what word or phrase substitutions would you suggest for what I just wrote? Go ahead. Tell us. I won’t be offended!

Jean Kavich Bloom is a freelance editor and writer for Christian publishers and ministries 
(Bloom in Words Editorial Services), with thirty years of experience in the book publishing world. Her personal blog is Bloom in Words too, where she sometimes posts articles about the writing life. She is also a regular contributor to The Glorious Table, a blog for women of all ages. Her published books are Bible Promises for God's Precious Princess and Bible Promises for God's Treasured Boy. She and her husband, Cal, have three children (plus two who married in) and five grandchildren, with foster grandchildren in their lives on a regular basis.

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  1. The only change I MIGHT make (after reading the whole article twice) is in the first sentence. "Long ago" seems kind of general. "Last century" would be more specific.

    1. Good point. Sometimes I still forget we've left the twentieth century behind!