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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Ruled by Intellect or Emotion? Tips on Word Choice #4

English: No skinny-dipping Unusual warning sig...
English: No skinny-dipping Unusual warning sign provided by the East Riding County Council at Auburn Sands near Fraisthorpe, south of Bridlington. Naturist groups have voiced their disapproval at the sign which seems to equate naturism with indecency, and also claim that this stretch of beach on the North Sea coast has long been recognized as a naturist resort. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Certain words/phrases can induce fairly specific responses in readers. As writers, we all know this, but do we use the power of emotion in our work?

For the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at something subjective: how to choose between emotional and intellectual words for effect.

In this series I’m looking at the difference between words that seem intellectual as opposed to those that invoke a more emotional response. How you use them is obviously up to you. The point is that the alternatives have the same, or very similar, meanings, but their effect upon the reader can be markedly different. I’ve made some suggestions here, but I’m sure you can think of others.

Intellectual: Aid
Emotional: Help

‘I am seeking aid for my project on the increasing instances of injustice in Western Democracies.’

‘I could do with a bit of help over here shifting this rubbish.’

Intellectual: Gratification
Emotional: Enjoyment

‘There is a great sense of gratification to be had from performing one’s duty to the high standards one expects of others.’

‘Shirley had great enjoyment skinny-dipping on the secluded tropical island.’

Intellectual: Terminate
Emotional: End

‘Due to the nature of your request for a fair salary in exchange for your labours, we are obliged to terminate your employment with immediate effect.’


‘All I did was ask for a decent wage and the buggers brought my job to an end!’
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