Writing Tools: Language

If you ever doubted the power of language, consider, if you will, this weather forecast.

It’s from The Daily Express, not known for understatement…

A BRUTAL tropical storm will smash Britain in just 24 hours, unleashing gales and torrential downpours while pushing temperatures close to 30 deg C.

Terrifying weather charts show the remains of Ernesto hurtling across the Atlantic before making a direct hit with the UK tomorrow night.

The storm will drag a plume of tropical air into the country bringing stifling humidity….

It goes on to talk about the storms that will hammer Britain, and an overnight deluge.

It sounds cataclysmic, apocalyptic….

Now, contrast that with a quote from the Met Office about the same storm:

It will start to feel breezy on Saturday morning across much of the UK with localised gales in the far north where there will also be some heavy showers. The remains of Ernesto will arrive during the early hours of Sunday; there will be some heavy downpours associated with this. We expect Ernesto to have passed by the afternoon when it will turn drier and more settled.

That’s a very British kind of weather prediction, isn’t it? Sounds almost benign in comparison to the one from the Express.

Same storm. Different descriptions. Different verbs used. Different adjectives.

It’s what you can do with your writing. Take time to choose just the right verb to create the image you want.

Did someone walk, or stride, or totter, or march, or amble?

Did they pull or haul or drag or bring?

It’s all part of the told-not-shown point, and I’ve not covered that yet but intend to.

But these examples show how you can increase the drama of a situation, and the impact it has on your reader, by your careful choice of just the right words.

Read more writing tools from our writing tools page

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.