Don’t Lead Your Readers Astray—Use the Right Word

by fanndango
by fanndango

by mensatic
by mensatic

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

— Mark Twain



When you write, do you highlight questionable words and then later search for a more accurate term? Do you do the same for bland words? Or, must you find the right word before you can progress to the next sentence?

Either way, you’ve developed good habits.


That’s why writers employ critique partners or editors. They fear they’ve overlooked substandard, misspelled, or wrong words.

Choose the best word for the following sentences.

  1. byAlvimann

    William had listened to enough of her ____. “Excuse me, madam, duty calls me elsewhere.”

    1. Boring talk
    2. Dribble
    3. Prattle
  1. Boring talk is accurate, but a solitary noun that nails William’s opinion would be much better.
  2. Dribble has no meaning in my dictionary that links to boring talk. The writer probably meant drivel. Drivel means dribble and nonsense talk.
  3. Prattle is the best of these: “foolish or inconsequential talk.” And, the sentence suggests it’s from a story set in an earlier period in which people might use such a word. My thesaurus also lists: gibber, nattering, burble, jabber, and babble. Of these, jabber or babble might work in a contemporary story.


  1. by keyseeker
    by keyseeker

    Honey ____ from the cabinet and dripped onto the counter.

    1. Ran
    2. Oozed
    3. Spread
  1. Ran is too fast for honey.
  2. Spread means gradually reached a larger and larger area. This is probably true inside the cabinet, but is not the picture of what we see coming out of the cabinet.
  3. Oozed is the best of these: “flow in a very gradual way.” My thesaurus also lists: seeped and crept.


  1. SDRandCo (26)His glock at the ready, Derrick ____ toward the cabin housing the meth lab. How many people inside would he surprise?
    1. Scuttled
    2. Moved
    3. Raced
  1. Moved is vague. It tells us nothing about how Derrick moved.
  2. Raced seems too fast for a man wondering how many people he’ll deal with inside. Stealth seems required.
  3. Scuttled is a good word: “run furtively with short quick steps.” But scuttle is often associated with rodents. Then again, Derrick wants to be spotted on his mission no more than a rat wants to be caught.

My thesaurus also lists: scurried, stole, and crept. Scurried is associated with small mammals, too. I like scuttle but crept or stole would work.


  • To find the best word, your word processor’s thesaurus/dictionary is a click away.
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What do you do to make sure you’ve used the best word? What word would you have used in the third exercise above?

How to Write Your Next Novel with Point and Click

“There are no shortcuts in life – only those we imagine.” —Frank Leahy


file0001423771801.jpgHave you sunk over a thousand hours into a manuscript and sent out a proposal? Did letters dribble back with rejections? Or do you dread starting your next contracted book?

I watched a video on how to create a flyer. The woman point-and-clicked a tasteful bake sale flyer in about 3 minutes. So why not a novel?


    • Instead of sinking 1000 hours into your next novel, what if you could point-and-click it done?
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    • Write a novel in 3 hours using the new software: Point & Click a Novel (P&CAN)?
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Step 1:  Go to SETUP. Click on Audience. Point and click.

o   Women < 40

o   Women > 40

o   Women = 40

o   Teens going on 40

o   Men

o   Horse lovers


Step 2:  Return to SETUP. Click on Genre. Point and click.

o   Funny

o   Serious

o   Scary

o   Car chases and Uzi battles

o   Horse adventures (Dog & cat capers available in P&CAN’s premium version.)

Step 3:  Return to SETUP. Click on Length. Point and click.

o   Comic book

o   Short story

o   Novella

o   Novel

o   War & Peace 

Step 4:  Go to RULES. Click on one for each rule.

file0001403772284o   1__ Heroine’s point of view; 2__ Head hop;  3__Mustang’s point of view

o   1__ Ban adverbs;  2__Ban –ly adverbs;  3__Freely use very, really, and quite

o   1__Show 5 senses;  2__No touchy-feely;  3__No tasteless characters

o   1__Sprinkle clichés;  2__Use manicured lawn in settings;  3__Use proverbial often

file000529187082Step 5:  Go to TITLES. Click on option.

o   One-word name, computer-generated from most popular first names.

o   Find the perfect horse moniker here.

o   Type in 3 words repeated often in the story. 1_____ 2_____ 3_____ (P&CAN will supply a title using all 3.)

o   Title meaningless to the story but sounds great. (P&CAN guarantees the publisher won’t change this title.)

Step 6:  Go to THEME. Choose and click.

o   A rogue learns to be nice, or at least nicer.

o   Aliens conquer transformers on the prairie and save the palominos.

o   Count Duke marries Lord Earl’s niece to prevent a land war.

o   Bad teen grows up, comes home, and finds himself.

o   Good teen grows up, leaves home, and finds his long-lost preschool love.

o   Murder stumps detective until he suspects his femme-fatale partner.

Step 7:  Go to SAGGING MIDDLE FILLER. Choose and click.

o   Heroine and chum catch up on events since 4-H club.

o   Hero learns how to shoe a bucking bronco.

o   Hero and heroine exchange letters while he makes his fortune on an oil rig.

o   Uzi shootouts between camouflaged big-game hunters and aerobic ladies clad in paisley tights.

Step 8:  Go to ENDINGS. Choose and click.

file0001168107757o   Boy gets girl (Variation: Girl gets boy)

o   Depressing but realistic

o   Happy trails

o   Cliff hanger

o   Hero walks away unscathed from a car pile-up and collars the identify thief

Step 9:   Go to Submit. Click. You should receive your novel in less than 2.5 hours.



  • Lighten your perspective on writing and keep on plugging.
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When the size of your new project sometimes outweighs your love of writing, how do you handle it?