Select right word to avoid reader confusion

In any story you tell, your choice of words matters. Selecting the wrong word can lead to a number of problems that quickly turns off the reader to your writing.

Poor word choice results in three general issues: clarity, vagueness and awkwardness.

The worst possible outcome of selecting the wrong word will be readers having no idea what you’re writing about. That forces them to reread the sentence or passage, which increases the chances that they’ll lose track of the storyline. You can be unclear in a number of ways:
• Misused words – Sometimes a similar sounding word is used, as in Our building is assessable by wheelchair. The writer really meant accessible.
• Unwanted connotations or meanings – Often the reader will laugh at such sentences, for example, The stowaways knew the only way to stop the pecan truck was to dump the man’s nuts all over the road.
• Ambiguity – While jogging through the park, a dog darted in front of Dawn is confusing because the reader doesn’t know if the dog or if Dawn were jogging.
• Subjective tension – If you wrote He raised his eyes, you wouldn’t literally mean that the character moved higher on his forehead, but the wrong word choice here creates a difference between what you’ve written and what you wanted to say.
• Jargon/technical terms – Unless the reader is a bicycle repairman, Because the fork had a negative air chamber, Tony removed the cover cap from the bottom of the left fork leg will make little sense.

Using inexact and fuzzy words leads to bland sentences that fail to create a vivid picture of what is occurring. For example: She seemed really tall.

Words like seemed and really don’t give the reader a detailed enough picture of the scene or character. Was she tall or not? And if she was tall, then just how high was she?

Sentences become difficult to understand because using the wrong word forces a writer create structures that make only a little sense. This almost always results in a sentence lacking rhythm. For example: My buddies were more anticipating than the dates.

The writer means to say that his buddies are feeling a greater sense of anticipation than their dates. That makes more anticipating a poor word choice. To correct it, a different form of the words more anticipating needs to be used and the sentence should be slightly restructured, perhaps as, My buddies enjoyed a greater sense of anticipation than their dates.