Want to Use Better Words? Follow Mary Deal’s Advice

Better Words


Mary Deal

Here’s something to ponder upon: There is always a way to say it better. These are some examples:

Afterward, she went on her way.

Ask yourself: How did she go? Instead of went, describe her movements or gait:

Afterward, she sauntered away.

Afterward, she walked away

Danced across the floor

Did a two-step across the floor

Waltzed across the floor

She felt around the floor of the car, trying to find the cell phone.

She groped around the seat and the floor of the car…

She slid her hand between the seats

The thought of dying came to mind.

The thought of bleeding to death came to mind.

The thought of succumbing to a coma and dying came to mind.

The above has two words to watch. We could have used….

The thought of slipping into a coma… instead, succumbing is more dramatic than gently slipping into a coma. Slipping hints at letting herself slip away. Succumbing tells us she put up a gallant fight to stay alive until more powerful forces overtook her. It’s more dramatic.

The fireman holding up her head managed to get his upper body through the open windshield space.

The fireman supporting her head managed to squeeze his upper body through the open windshield space.

Your prose must sing and dance off the page. Anytime you describe what a character does, always check to see if a more descriptive word might apply. Any word to help the reader see the detailed actions that your characters perform is better to use.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre.

About Mike Angley

Mike Angley is the award-winning author of the Child Finder Trilogy. He retired as a Colonel from the Air Force in 2007 following a 25-year career as a Special Agent with the Office of Special Investigations (OSI). He held 13 different assignments throughout the world, among which were five tours as a Commander of various units, to include two Air Force Squadrons and a Wing. He is a seasoned criminal investigator and a counterintelligence and counterterrorism specialist. In his last assignment, he was Commander of OSI Region 8 with responsibility for all of Air Force Space Command. He’s fond of saying, “If it entered or exited Earth’s atmosphere, I had a dog in the fight!”
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