word choice matters

Some words – fun, beautiful, scary, amazingspecial – are so overused they have lost their ability to convey anything meaningful – in fact they are bland:

“A beautiful woman walked into the waiting room, spoke with the receptionist and took a seat.”  gives us no meaningful information about the woman.

As writers, we must define beauty in our stories using some or all of the five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, smell:

A woman in a white shearling coat entered the waiting room, her boot heels hammered the linoleum, her silk scarf painted the air with amber spice, causing men and women to turn. She rushed to the window labeled ‘Patient Registration’ and after a brief exchange she turned and looked around, her dark eyes and mocha skin the more striking for their contrast to the white faces looking back at her.   Rather than sit between two children with runny noses, she took an empty seat beside an elderly man in a pressed suit. Watching the registration window she commenced to wait. Something about her upstaged everything, the bloody noses, broken bones, the heart attacks, but not in the way she had dreamed of.

If we want our readers to care, then we must take care with what words we choose.

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