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When it comes to word choice, the diction of the word is just as important to consider as the meaning.
But strong writing requires more than simply switching from passive to active word choices.
It requires concrete details, specific nouns and verbs (which in turn means reducing the number of adjectives and adverbs) and precise, uncluttered prose.
The length, complexity and sound of a word all contribute to its connotation.
The dictionary defines connotation as “the suggestion of a meaning by a word apart from the thing it explicitly names or describes.” It’s because of these subtle shades of meaning that word choice is such an important element of creative writing.
Throughout a quiet, overcast autumn day, when gray clouds lay soft and low in the sky, I had been enjoying a solitary ride through an unremarkable expanse of countryside, and after a time found myself, as twilight faded to velvet dusk, within view of the unhappy House of Usher.
The first passage, from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” demonstrates that writer’s ability to set the stage for a classic Gothic story of decay and madness.
Whenever you write, carefully examine your word choices to make sure you are using the best word for the job.
Beyond the dictionary definition of a word lies its deeper meaning(s).
How different the readers’ expectations would have been had Poe decided to use the second version of this passage to start his story.
“Dark and soundless” is infinitely more sinister than “quiet and overcast.” As you work on any piece of writing, experiment with your word choices.