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Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Ruled by Intellect or Emotion? Tips on Word Choice #9

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.
The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Some 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 these few weeks, I’m looking at something subjective: how to choose between emotional and intellectual words for effect. You won’t always agree with me, of course; you’re writers. But, hopefully, my suggestions will get the thought processes going.

In this series I’m looking at the difference between words that seem intellectual as opposed to those that evoke 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: Circular
Emotional: Round

Many people think the Earth’s orbit around the Sun is circular, but it is, of course, elliptical.

‘Round as pink grapefruit, they’re crowned with roseate cherries.’

Intellectual: Disclose
Emotional: Explain

Ephraim was instructed to disclose the source of the information he had used to write his exclusive report.

‘You gonna explain where you got that gen, Mandy?’

Intellectual: Pharmaceuticals
Emotional: Medicine

Many pharmaceuticals have undesirable side effects that render the drugs almost as unpleasant as the conditions they are intended to treat.

‘This medicine will make you better. I know it will, as I made it myself from natural substances.’
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