The Word Doctor: Use Short, Fresh Words

As Theodore Rees Cheney says in Getting the Words Right, "a writer in our business needs a store of expressive words"—not a storehouse of long, complex Latin-derived words.

The right words breathe life into your message and help the reader envision more vivid visual images. As Cheney says, consider words like break, scatter or glimmer. These short words "are concrete and create immediate sense impressions." Here's an example:

Before: If I take the time to look outside of my window during the day, I can see a street covered with snow and ice. People are carrying their briefcases, packages and handbags and trying to balance themselves with care so as not to slip on the ice and fall.

After: The streets outside my window are covered with snow. Fearful people, clinging to their wares, shuffle cautiously to avoid a fall.

(Cheney, p. 157-158)

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