Words Have Power

Hello, authors! Do you ever find yourself writing a scene where your characters are having a steaming cup of coffee and suddenly have a craving for one yourself? Or, what if your characters are sharing a luscious ice cream sundae? Doesn’t that make you want one?

Why is that?

Because Words Have Power!

It is our job as writers to use those words in the best way possible not only to communicate an idea, but emotions and scenes.

The use of gestures and body language predates spoken language. Many researchers believe this form of communicating began at least four million years ago. When we speak today, we still use gestures and body language to supplement our communication. Often, we unconsciously use body language for at least 55% of all communication. I have always said, if you tied my hands, I wouldn’t be able to speak. πŸ™‚

So what does all of that have to do with writing? Simple. By implementing the use of body language along with strong words in writing our stories (especially dialogue) we can tell our readers tons of information about the person speaking. For instance, if someone crosses their arms across their chest, it shows an act of defiance, or taking a defensive stance. Clenched fists, can portray anger. Picking at an imaginary thread on clothing shows restlessness or anxiety. You get the idea.

But I want to talk more about the words themselves. The language we use today still has words that were formulated sixty-five thousand years ago to describe the feelings and emotions that were emerging from the middle brain’s polarity thinking. If we consciously change our language, we can change the course of an entire story or life.

High-energy words accompany high-energy thoughts and vice-versa. So, in choosing words through which to tell our stories, we can set a tone from the get-go. If we are writing a scene where one of the characters is vile, we would want to use power words to get that point across. Maybe he has a permanent sneer on his face or a long scar running down one cheek. Words like deadly, poison, deceiving, death, dark or toxic might convey his demeanor. Of course, to show someone happy, and light-hearted would require opposite words.

And that leads me into the next transition. Words have power so why not choose power words when we are writing?

Power words are are persuasive, descriptive words that trigger a positive or negative emotional response. They can make us feel scared, encouraged, aroused, angry, greedy, safe, or curious. Make sense?

Here are a few examples:

Notice that all of these words are action verbs. Verbs determine when something happens, in the past, present or in the future. They set the tense of your story.

So, the next time you sit down at the keyboard, pay attention to the words you are typing. Are they weak words like felt, thought, saw, walked, etc? Or, are you using power words that pack a punch and get to the heart of the emotion?

I’d love to hear from you. What do you think about using power words in your writing?

51 thoughts on “Words Have Power

  1. Wonderful aid. Have to save this one! I could tell you a story about how writing a scene not involving food or drink but another human interaction that seems to stimulate something, but we won’t go there. LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great reminders. I do find myself putting lazy filler words in that really must be replaced with the type of power words you mention.

    BTW, I like your shout out to body language. My prehistoric folks (1.8 mya) use a lot of body language and gestures. I loved that you say it started as far back as 4 million years. Now tell all my readers!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I was taking a novel writing course, my teacher strongly suggested that EVERY word had to be justified. She was right. I mean, how many times can you use the word ‘said?’ As an action/adventure author, I agree with you that the proper word can make or break a scene, and you have a good selection here.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the term “power words” before, but I immediately knew what they were. Active verbs and descriptive words hold the most strength. It’s incredible to think that we can make complete strangers feel something from our words. When we share our own vulnerabilities as authors, I think readers can identify with us even more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Pete. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I totally agree that when we share our vulnerabilities as authors, it lets the readers know we are flawed relatable humans. Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You are absolutely right Jan, words are powerful. In poetry just one word could convey many emotions and just one metaphor is enough for the whole story that a poet wants to tell. Look at this: β€œcloak of claustrophobia wraps around”… isn’t the expression powerful and saying a lot?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a beautiful example, Balroop! YES! That phrase says so much without a lot of words. It sets the tone in an emotive way. Thank you for stopping by and for sharing your example. Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The right words can have such an impact on the reader on how they get glued to the story or whatever you write about. The list is amazing. I never thought about it but yes, those words do have a strong effect. I am happy that I found a lot of words I am using in my writings. Great and insightful post, Jan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Erika. I’m so glad you found the list helpful. Of course, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. πŸ™‚ We have so many words we can use, but we tend to get stuck using the same ones over and over. Thank you so much for stopping by! Happy writing!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, that is so true. I remember a few years ago, Colleen publishing a list of words that can be used instead of “awesome”. I did not use the word for many months then… lol

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Great persuasive post, Jan. 😊 I love your list of action verbs and all the accompanying reasons for using them. Thanks for the nudge and the clarity!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And it shows in your writing, Mae! Your stories are unforgettable, and your action scenes gripping. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment today! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Jan, loved your post and this reminder to writers that the “power” is in our hands. I first learned this as a Classifier, writing job descriptions for the U.S. government – use action and power words, and it was really brought home to me working with Susan Hughes, my editor for my first novel. It is so satisfying to write a sentence that conveys that punch that will resonate with readers. The list of words is a good one and I’m going to print it out! Thanks for this thought-provoking post!


    1. Oh, those pesky crutch words, Staci. We are all guilty of using those without even realizing it. Having just completed your sci-fi series, I’d say you’ve got a pretty darn good grip on using power words. πŸ™‚ Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I so agree, Jan. From my experience sharing with both grade school children and female inmates the ecstasy of writing, I later wrote my experience in a 1,500 word essay, “The Power of the Word.” I love this list you provided. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, Parris. I would love to read that essay. Even better yet, I think my followers would love reading your essay. Let’s think about sharing it in a blog post. Thank you for stopping by! We must do lunch soon!!


  10. Hi Jan,
    This is so true. The need for power words is a necessity for any writer who wants to bring his or her reader into their world.
    I truly believe that words become a spirit in any book we write. These words then hold the reader. They can even change a reader’s perspective. Thus the stronger the word, the more impact it has on the reader.
    Excellent craft article.

    On another note: I have had problems coming on your website since Monday. I don’t know why. This morning I rebooted my Google explorer twice before it let me go to your website, but this time it worked. Computers are funny and can be aggravating.
    Wishing you a great day.
    Shalom aleichem

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How strange, Pat. I’m so sorry you’ve had trouble getting over here. I’ve missed you. πŸ™‚ What you said about words becoming the spirit of the book really resonates with me. And the fact that those words can possibly change a reader’s perspective is powerful. Your recent short story is a great example of a good use of power words! Thank you for stopping by today and so glad you could get in. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

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