Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Using Power Words

As I was formatting the last round of Pass Or Pages posts, one comment in particular caught my eye. Agent Tricia Skinner noted on one of our entries that writers weren't ending their sentences with "power words." To see the example, check out this entry, comment TS2. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Well, as I was working on that post, I was mulling this idea over and over in my head. How could I use power words to my advantage?

Then I finished the post, and moved over to Scrivener to work on my WIP. As I was reading over the work I'd done the previous night, I realized that there was a perfect example (of what not to do!) right in my own writing! And because of Tricia's advice, I was able to fix the sentence to end on the power word. This is a great example, by the way, of how Pass Or Pages can help writers whether they write in the the featured category/genre or not. Let me show you how it helped me:

In my WIP, the main character hunts ghosts with her two friends. This brings her into the path of a boy she used to be best friends with, and the more she hunts ghosts, the more she sees him. Her friends encourage her to talk to him, so she finally works up the courage to send him a message. The night before this little scene, the MC and her friends tried contacting a ghost through a Ouija board, and the ghost laughed at them (in a scary way, not a cute way). That's all you need to know to understand this sentence:

I'm trying to emphasize that even though she hunts ghosts, talking to a boy she likes is way scarier for this character. This sentence ends with the qualifier "the night before." Is when the ghost laughed at her the important part? No, of course not. So I tweaked this sentence to end on the word that gives the sentence the most power:

It's such a little thing, but it makes a big difference. Using power words correctly to help your individual sentences have greater impact is definitely an advanced writing craft tool, but you can learn it and use it to your advantage. It just takes practice.

Do you have any examples of how you've edited to use a power word? I'd love to see them in the comments!


Taryn Skipper said...

Yes, something new to edit for! Thank you for the great tip.

JeffO said...

I would have just said "the flow is better in #2" or something like that, but going back to read the previous post, I get the concept.

Chritina Francine said...

The second version is better. Thanks for the tip.