Word Choice: A Mini Grammar Review
For every writing piece, improvements can be made in words chosen for the piece. Not only do more specific words create a more vivid picture, but word choice depicts the style of the writing and the prospective audience of the writing. As you draft scripts or graphic novel dialogue, it is essential that you make the best possible word choices. To edit your writing, it is best to look at each type of word consecutively to see where improvements can be made. To get you on your way to editing for clearer and more powerful word choices, look at the words in the following order:
- Verbs: the action words (or possibly inaction words) help the reader to picture the action or plot occurring.
- Avoid passive voice if at all possible. Make sure the noun is doing something, and not having something done to it.
- Use the thesaurus to help you to come up with more descriptive, active, dynamic verbs to capture the action in your sentences which create your writing piece.
- Be careful of verbs that are used too frequently. While some verbs tell the story better than others, use a synonym of that verb rather than the same word over and over.
- Nouns: the people, places, and things that do the action in your sentences also craft your overall style and carry your story forward.
- Again the thesaurus can be invaluable in selecting a more specific noun.
- Go through your paper and find every “girl”, “woman”, “man”,
“boy”, “dog”, “pet”, “car”, “house”, “building”, “city”, etc, and substitute a better noun for those general words that carry no image. The “athlete”, “femme fatale”, “castle”, “limousine” or “headquarters”, carry much more meaning.
- Adjectives: the words that describe the nouns and usually come before them
- Most writers feel that the adjectives are the most important parts of the descriptions in their work. Adjectives can help the reader to visualize what the writer is trying to depict. That thesaurus will help you to select the most vivid adjectives.
- Repeating an adjective is rarely a good idea. There are many different word choices for an adjective, each with a different nuance. The right adjective can maintain the style of the work.
- Adverbs: the words that tell how, when, or where, and to what extent and often end in -ly
- The adverbs can help the verbs to be more accurate in the work. These words can strengthen weaker verbs. For example, “certainly true” means something slightly different than “mostly true” or “quite true”.
- Adverbs can also tell about the adjectives in the sentences with the ability to change the meaning of those adjectives.
- Interjections: those words that show strong emotions.
- An interjection can carry a lot of weight in a sentence. An interjection, again, must fit the style of the work, or it jars on the reader’s ears.
- There are websites that contain lists of interjections to help you select the best interjection for your sentence. For example, “Yikes” would drastically change your sentence as compared to “Oh, the ungodly horror.”
- In case you have forgotten, the other parts of speech are conjunctions, connecting words; and prepositions, words that pull a noun into the sentence. These parts of speech are harder to edit for more effective sentences. They are what they are.
Keep these grammatical categories in mind as you write, looking carefully throughout your piece when editing to choose the best word for each part of speech, one at a time.