Choose Your Words Carefully


When you’re writing about a special moment in a novel, such as a harrowing escape or a tender love scene, do you write whatever moods strikes you or do you choose your words carefully?  In other words, do you wrangler your words together with extreme care or just sling them onto the page?

We have an amazing language with an abundance of words.  In fact, people who learn English as a second or even a third language often comment that we have so many words to learn and some have several meanings and spellings.  However, it seems our extensive lists of words are used rather sparingly in today’s casual language.

As a writer, I find that I am guilty of redundant words in my writing zone of safety and I usually catch them in rewrites.  There are only so many words that describe the perils of a thriller protagonist in a story, so I’m frequently looking to other sources and techniques to freshen up stale, and sometimes potentially draggy sentences of the same descriptive words.  BAM!  I want to hit readers between the eyes with a serial killer character or send chills up their spine in an action escape scene.  One of the best things that I’ve done was to drum up an entire page of alternative words.

There is such power with words and writers have the awesome job of conveying thoughts, feelings, dialogue, and actions in a way to entertain, provoke, or educate.

Commonly Misspelled Words

For writers and many others alike, there are words that we commonly misspell.  I remember in school recommend and accommodate were beaten into my brain from the English teacher.  I don’t think I’ve misspelled them since that time.


Daiquiri (How often do you get to use this word in your writing?)




Vacuum (I get some of my best creative ideas when I’m doing this chore)



Check out this site for 100 commonly misspelled words.

Words I find Often Myself Looking up How to Spell

Why is it that I find myself looking up specific words that I’ve used many times?

It is interesting to test ourselves on writing, but I seem to find that I double-check these words.  These stubborn words never look quite right, even though they are correct.  Whether I’m writing a fictional novel, a specific report of technical words, or fun exclamations, these words make me double-check my spelling.

Hors d’oeuvre (I’m hungry already thinking about it)

Ta-da (how many times does a character say this, really?)



Deoxyribonucleic acid (yeah I know DNA is much easier)

Mitochondrial Deoxyribonucleic acid (yep, I actually had to spell this out)




Here is a site for all you CSI buffs and crime fiction/mystery writers for forensic terminology.

Words that Make me Laugh

There are many words in our language just by their pronunciation that make me laugh.  I hardly ever get to use some of these funny words, but I’ve managed to put at least one, sometimes two, in each of my novels, which it’s usually in character dialogue.  It’s one of my quirks but I love a challenge!







Cantankerous (I’ve actually used this word)



You can check out a site for the most 100 most humorous words.


3 Fun Writing Techniques that help to punch up word vocabulary:

  1. Don’t be afraid to open the dictionary on a random page and pick a word that you’ve never or rarely used, and write ten to twenty sentences using that word.
  2. Pick a word that you find yourself using frequently and write down ten to twenty other alternatives.  Write as many as possible.  Once you get started, you’ll be amazed at how many other words you can come up with.
  3. Depending upon the genre you write in, pick a word that you think you would never use in any of your stories and write ten to twenty sentences using that word.  Just for laughs.  For example:  Flibbertigibbet or catawampus

So do you consider yourself a word wrangler or a sentence slinger?


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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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8 Responses to Choose Your Words Carefully

  1. lilycarmichael says:

    ‘Seperate’ is another common misspelling – didn’t everyone’s teacher give them the ‘there’s A RAT in sepARATe’?
    I think I vary, in answer to your final question – I’m a slinger in first draft mode, and a wrangler in editing mode. I think that’s probably true for lots of us!


  2. AFord says:

    I’ll 2nd that in respect to initially slinging, and then tidying up in editing mode. Really appreciate this insightful post, and have bookmarked it. A great resource to return to. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Terrific post and wonderful advice.


  4. danagriffin says:

    Instead of lollygagging, I should get off my butt and write a doozy of a reply. Maybe all this gobbledygook on my desk is making me cantankerous. So, I’ll just say, great post. I enjoyed reading this.


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