Which Word Should I Choose?

Which Word Should I Choose?

By Britney Pieta

Some of you may think it’s the lack of words (writers block) that makes it hard to write, but I believe it’s the exact opposite. There are so many words to choose from and so many ways to present your writing, so how do you decide which ones to use?

My Journalism teacher—Cathy Stablein, from College of DuPage described it as being like a surgeon. You have to choose your words with precision and accuracy.

You might want to ask yourself:

  • Is this given word’s meaning I have selected the most exact/closest word I can find for this particular sentence that I have imagined in my head? (Ex. weeping vs. sobbing)

1. Samantha sat in her car weeping so hard she couldn’t breathe.

2. Samantha sat in her car sobbing so hard she couldn’t breathe.

Which do you think is better?

  • Am I adding so many difficult vocabulary words that my reader is lost or confused? (Ex.“quixotic” which could be changed to the word idealistic or impractical.)
  • Are the words I have chosen staying true to the character’s personalities in my story? (Ex. an atheist who others call himself “righteous,” but isn’t in any religion and abhors that word.)


  • Are the words I have chosen going to be interpreted differently depending on the audience who reads it? (Ex. a young adult audience vs. elderly audience)

Remember to not be afraid of rewriting and rewriting over and over again because you might not portray it right the first time. As a writer the words flow through you and sometimes if you never use certain words or know the right word but can’t put your finger on it—(buried somewhere in your head) it is helpful to consult a dictionary or thesaurus.



Filed under Bloggin' with Britney

2 responses to “Which Word Should I Choose?

  1. Hey, Britney:

    Great message. I have a book in me, and it wants to come out. I will need to choose my words well to make my book tell a powerful story. Thanks for the great tips.

    I found a writing tool that is mind-blowing. Have you or your colleagues heard of the Visual Thesaurus? Google it. You can do a word search at this site, and instantly synonyms come up in a Think Map, and definitions come up so you can find the right word to convey the meaning you are after. You can do a trial run to see how it works and how you like it. I love it.

    Good writing to you,

    Dennis James

  2. D. Elwell

    One of the things I try to do in my writing is challenge my reader and one of the ways I do this is to use words that they might not encounter in everyday life. I don’t believe they have to be difficult as you suggest in the following point you make in your blog:
    “Am I adding so many difficult vocabulary words that my reader is lost or confused? (Ex.“quixotic” which could be changed to the word idealistic or impractical.)”

    I admit that using words like quixotic is a slippery slope for the writer because he/she risks losing readers if they have to sit next to their dictionary to wade through a piece. There is also the risk of a sort of ivory tower snobbishness, but isn’t that the reader’s problem rather than the writers? There is a difficult balance for the writer to achieve here, i.e. engage the reader with colorful, vivid language but not tax his/her willingness to work a bit. Aren’t challenging the imagination and, dare I say educating, things writers owe their readers? We were taught the importance of expanding vocabulary in grade school. I believe quixotic is a much more colorful word than idealistic or impractical. When I see that word I see Don Quixote tilting at windmills with his lance; a pretty vivid image for a reader and that enriches the reading experience for me.

    I wish I knew the answer to this conundrum as it is something I struggle with as I write. I invite your thoughts as well as those of other bloggers on this.

    Regards, D. Elwell

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