What ARE the Powerful Words?

I have always loved Thomas Wolfe, thought he was one of the most under-appreciated writers in the 20th century. I was introduced to his writing style by my 6th grade English teacher. I can’t recall her name, but I remember quite vividly the Xerox handouts she passed out one day– a lengthy essay excerpt from Wolfe’s massive novel, Of Time and the River –his exposition on Fall. ” October is the richest of the seasons, the fields are cut, the granaries are full, the bins are loaded to the brim with fatness, and from the cider press the rich brown oozings of the York Imperials runs….” Lush and dense.

power words

power words

In the world of web copywriting VERBS are pitted against ADJECTIVES and when they duke it out, verbs usually smack down the bottom-heavy descriptive wall-flowers. Does that mean adjectives are without power and punch?

Verbs are action, that’s a fact. In fact according to master copywriters, the smartest strategy is to scrub your copy of weak and watered down verbs and replace with skyscraper verbs–dynamic non-bland action words that help your copy walk tall.

I could say the same tactic could be applied to whatever meager few adjectives you’ve allowed to remain in your copy. If they’re there, why not take a scrub brush to them as well? Haul out the thesaurus and dig in. Mine for the meatiest descriptor (adjective) and the big take-action words (verbs). Paper thesaurus is a no-brainer.

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  1. Words are Sharks and Clown Fish and Stingrays, (oh my!) « Word Bang - 1 April, 2011

    […] two years ago, I wrote a post about “powerful words.” The problem with that post? I talk about verbs and adjectives– action versus […]

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