Link to published article: Writing with Power
Writing the right word makes all the difference. Power words make an essay persuasive, make a story descriptive, and make a speech spectacular. The English language has over 170 000 words and over 300 synonyms for the word “good.” Yet, writers continue to choose drab, lifeless words to illustrate their ideas. So, how does one make a change and write with power? First, one must understand what makes a paper “weak.”
1) Avoid wishy-washy words
When writing an essay, particularly a persuasive essay, don’t use words that leave your claims open for attack, instead make your arguments solid, with strong, clear, and decisive language. If you are unsure of a point, then leave it out of your essay as it just weakens your case.
Weak words: kind of, sort of, fairly, somewhat, possibly, sometimes
Weak: There is possible evidence that dust mites kind of trigger asthma attacks in young children.
Powerful: Research shows a causal link between exposure to dust mites and asthma exacerbation in young children.
2) Dodge vague words: good, bad, nice, very
These words are not descriptive and leave the reader with little information. Good and bad can refer to a variety of character traits; be specific in your writing as it makes your ideas clear. Keep a list of synonyms for good/bad/nice close-by and refer to the list when these vague words sneak into your writing.
Weak: She was a good teacher, but she could not teach him to read.
Powerful: She was a dedicated teacher, but she could not teach him to read.
3) Ditch weak phrases: “there is/are”
Writing with power means using an active voice (refer to “The Active Voice” on www.quillsandquotes.ca for further reading). Phrases such as “there is” or “there are” signal passive writing ahead! Often, these phrases accompany a weak verb. When revising an essay, scan the document for these phrases and determine whether an active voice and strong verb would make the writing more powerful.
Weak: There are bandits on the express train!
Powerful: Bandits commandeered the express train!
Avoiding these three essay weakeners is a critical first step and can solve 80% of a standard essay’s issues. For more power essay writing tips, visit the Quills and Quotes website. Quills and Quotes serves the Toronto GTA and teaches children powerful writing and specializes in essay writing classes for students in middle and high school. For more information, visit their website at www.quillsandquotes.ca.