Write Crisp – Word Choice

I apologize if the new title for my writing posts makes you hungry. I cannot stop thinking of Rice Crispies; does any cereal hold more sugar? As a ten-year old boy, I reached for unsweetened cereal in the cupboard. I wanted to choose the amount of sugar on my own. Some cereals tantalized my tongue with lots of added sugar, while others were delicious with nary an added grain. Cheerios fell into the latter category. Rice Crispies and Grape Nuts cried out for a four to one ratio – four parts sugar! Some cereals melt in the mouth; others are hard and crunchy. These days, I’m more likely to sigh as I walk past the cereal section of the grocery store. Whether due to age, taste, or diet I’m not quite sure. Maybe the selection of cereals is so broad that my mind boggles with indecision. Sometimes, life makes choosing difficult.

One aspect of writing I am particularly sweet on is choice of word. The right word will make or break a thought, a point, or a story. There are two categories of choosing the right word:Β Synonym and Sound.

I’ll skim over the Synonym category since we know using a thesaurus to choose a word is rife with danger. Writers risk sounding inauthentic – fake – when using words not part of their daily vocabulary. They also risk missing the subtle differences of definition between synonyms, differences that may convey your intended point or thought with a different meaning (or mental image).

You should pay attention to how your writing sounds to the reader. I almost never read my writing aloud. Yes, I know; we’re often advised to read our writing aloud to ensure sentences flow and sound natural. I prefer to do that in my head (that helps me drown out the other voices in my head πŸ™‚

Words with harsh, hard sounds may grate on the reader’s nerves. When I write, I avoid opening sentences with “It.” It sounds harsh, for one thing. It, as a substitute for using an object’s name, seems impersonal. “Look at that rainbow. It’s so lovely.” “Look at that rainbow. How lovely.”

Another word I avoid is “got.” I got a raise. I got clobbered. I got everything I need. Got Milk? (KMN.) Got is an ugly word. It sounds harsh, hard, misbegotten. Using “got” is uninspired writing. Using got implies the writer is unaware of the effect words have on sentence flow and sound. The writer may use the word naturally, but that doesn’t mean got is the right, or best, word. When used in dialogue between characters, got is acceptable, as long as the word is natural to the character speaking. Other than that, got should be avoided.

The thoughtful writer pays attention to how words sound. Words that fit the pattern of your thought or intended meaning are fine. However, words with harsh, hard, or jarring sounds will sound harsh, hard, and jarring to the reader. Don’t be afraid to search the thesaurus for a better word, or the right word. Do be careful not to select the wrong word.

18 thoughts on “Write Crisp – Word Choice

  1. 1. OMGoodness!! One of my favorite things about cereal was the sugar bottle (it was a bottle with this stopper that fell open when you upended it) and pouring sugar generously over my cheerios and rice krispies. Then, after the cereal was gone, spooning out the sweetened milk with as much sugar as would fit in the spoon. Being a latch key kid had some great benefits!!!
    2. ‘That’. What a horrid word. I find I use it way too often.
    3. Fancy words are fun to use…..carefully!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL I used to put sugar on everything too.
        I remember as a kid, we ran out! And it just wasn’t the same without my sugar fix!
        So, I eyed the salt shaker. I mean, it looked like sugar…How bad could it be?
        I learned quickly how bad it could be lol Now I’ve gone full circle and I won’t even buy cereal for my boys because it’s too full of sugar! (They think I’ve gone too far lol)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Will for this advice. I do check my words and sound but I think I will consciously pay attention to it now. But I do understand what you’re saying, I use Thesaurus but I do check the meaning of the words to make sure it’s what I’m looking for. I will try and get rid of “it”. Thanks a lot. 🌺🌺

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “It” isn’t easy. Both it and got are so much a part of daily vocabulary that we use them without thinking. Your writing will be better for the effort. though. Thank you for reading and commenting! 😊❀

      Liked by 1 person

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