Words are powerful.

When I’m editing I comb through each sentence of my manuscript, checking to see if I could use more powerful words. Sometimes there just isn’t any better way to say it than plain Jane sayin’ it. But most of the time, I can find beautiful words to transform my plain Jane sentence into something worthy of a runway.

 Here’s how I do it:

  1. I find the word I want to change and write it at the top of a piece of paper.
  2. I open www.thesaurus.com and search that word. Simple isn’t it?
  3. I scroll through all the possibilities until I find some alternatives that I like and write them down. I star the ones I like the best. Sometimes I like the tone of a word, but it’s meaning isn’t quite right, so I’ll go on a little expedition of related words.
  4. When I have a few good possibilities, I test out my original sentence using these new words. Sometimes the new words won’t fit with the structure of the sentence, so I switch everything around to accommodate this new fabulous word find. And sometimes it transforms a character…

Here’s an example from my manuscript Dangerous Dreams. My heroine Evanee is describing her boss.

First Draft:

Ernie met her at the kitchen window with a smile on his face and a pair of tongs in his hand. His bald head glistened from working over the grill.

Explanation of Changes:

*When I edited this paragraph, I thesaurus-ed the word cook—because that’s what Ernie is—a diner cook.

*Hash slinger came up and I fell head over heels for it. It conveyed the exact tone I was searching for.

*Being a lover of alliteration homicidal hash slinger came to mind and the paragraph was transformed—along with Ernie’s character!

Final Draft:

Ernie met her at the kitchen window with a pair of tongs in his hand and anger on his face. His sharply slashed brows met over his eyes, a scowl constantly gripped his lips, and the strange vibe of restrained violence intimidated most everyone and kept the patrons from being too grabby-feely. He looked like a homicidal hash slinger, but didn’t have any bodies stashed in the freezer. At least none she’d found.


Are you a word lover? What tricks do you use to power-up your word choices in your manuscript? Do you have a sentence that you’d like to share with us that you’ve powered-up simply by changing a word?

About the author: abbieroads