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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Ruled by Intellect or Emotion? Tips on Word Choice #11

Freshman college girls between classes. By sta...
Freshman college girls between classes. By standards of the time, they would have been considered very "dressed up." Memphis, Tennessee, 1973 (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: Attractive
Emotional: Good Looking

‘Regardless of how attractive you find her, she is not considered suitable marriage material by your father, Brian.’

‘She’s a good looking girl, Bri. I can see why you’d want to be with her.’

Intellectual: Garment
Emotional: Dress, Skirt, Shirt

‘That garment is hardly suitable for the workplace, Miss Divine.’

‘Wow! That miniskirt really suits you, Di.’

Intellectual: Perceive
Emotional: See

‘I perceive a change in the manner of your relationship with that young woman.’


‘I can see you’re completely infatuated with that girl.’
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