Finding the Best Word for the Job by Rayne Hall (writing tips)


Specific words make a story vivid because they paint a clear picture for the reader.

“A woman with a dog” creates only a vague picture. By replacing “woman” and “dog” with specific  words you can bring your story alive:

“A lady with a poodle”

“A tart with a mongrel”

“A gothgirl with a puppy”

Rayne Hall

Rayne Hall

“A redhead with a Rottweiler”

“The man looked like a sports champion” is bland.  Show us what kind of man and what kind of sports, and the sentence becomes interesting:

“The gentleman looked like a fencing champion.”

“The thug looked like a boxing champion.”

“The salesman looked like a sumo champion.”

Instead of the dull description with generic words “This garden is full of flowers of all kinds”  show the kind of flowers to paint a picture:

“This garden is full of roses, honeysuckles, and hollyhocks” – The reader sees a cottage garden.

“This garden is full of crocuses, daffodils and tulips.” – The reader sees a garden in spring.

“The garden is full of daisies, dandelions and thistles.” – The reader sees a garden overgrown with weeds.

Before tackling your own manuscript, you may want to practice on these sentences. Use your imagination to replace the underlined generic words with specific ones.

I went further down the road until I came to a building half hidden by trees.

She put on her new dress and shoes and applied make-up.

For dinner, he ate meat with vegetables.

Have fun. If you like, post your versions as comments. We look forward to reading them.

To learn more about Rayne Hall and how to order her books, please visit Meet the Contributors.

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6 thoughts on “Finding the Best Word for the Job by Rayne Hall (writing tips)

  1. I’m six chapters into my first erotic romance novel and I’ve just discovered this site. It gives the most clear cut, simple to understand, information that I’ve found. I’ve already used the “could” and “begins to and starts to”. I’ll admit with the “could” I had quite a few to change, but with the others I was pleased to find only around a dozen in all of the examples.

    I try to be descriptive when I write but I’ll definitely be sure to keep an eye on any vague or boring sentences. I figured I give your examples a try just for the fun of it. Well, here goes.

    1) I trudged further down the rutted path until I came to the rotted remains of a cabin, half hidden within the skeletal fingers of what once looked to be a copse of pines.

    2) She put on her new vampy red dress and f%&k-me stiletto’s before applying a thick coat of vermillion lipstick to her too full lips.

    3) He ate a steak the size of half a cow with a potato as big as a football.

  2. I ambled further down the path until I came to a shack half hidden by sycamores.

    She put on her new gown and flip-flops and applied rouge lipstick.

    For dinner, he ate steak with ice cream

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