Writer's Workshop

Word Choice Strategy

"Words Paint a picture for the reader"





     Choosing the best words for a piece of writing involves being able to look critically at verbs and adverbs, nouns and adjectives and select ones that are active and not passive. the verbs that the writer chooses are powerful and energetic. The writer is able to choose just the right words to make the writing sound natural.

Word choice is to writing what ingredients are to cooking- they make all the difference. Word choice to writing can also be compared to a painter. The medium he chooses makes his painting vivid or dark. Good writer's use transition words to help as they write.

 If you choose the right words for your piece you too can paint memorable pictures for your audience. See some examples.

Writing is a series of choices. As you work on a paper, you choose your topic, your approach, your sources, and your thesis; when it's time to write, you have to choose the words you will use to express your ideas and decide how you will arrange those words into sentences and paragraphs.

As you revise your draft, you make more choices. You might ask yourself, "Is this really what I mean?" or "Will readers understand this?" or "Does this sound good?" Finding words that capture your meaning and convey that meaning to your readers is challenging.

When your instructors writes things like "awkward," "vague," or "wordy" on your draft, they are letting you know that they want you to work on word choice.

This handout will explain some common issues related to word choice and give you strategies for choosing the best words as you revise your drafts.


 Word Choice Activities


Finding Examples of Words

bullet Use samples of cartoons on overheads. Leave off the captions. Have students fill in the captions.
bullet After the first draft of a writing assignment is complete, ask students to find a partner to switch papers with. The partner must circle five words that could be changed by using a thesaurus. Switch back papers and all students use the thesaurus to find replacement words.
bullet Give the students The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. Use one copy to highlight words you will replace. Use sticky notes and replace ten hard to understand words with easier words. Use dictionaries and a thesaurus to complete this activity.

Using a Thesaurus

bullet Look up any word from the selection you are reading. Use the thesaurus to find five synonyms for the word. Choose two and write new sentences for them.
bullet Make a list of adjectives you found in the chapter or selection and then look them up in the thesaurus. Put one new word beside each.
bullet Make a list of verbs and follow the example above

Word Wall

bullet Students make wall list of verbs, adjectives, and adverbs from their reading. They must use these in their writing activities.
bullet A similar list of descriptive phrases can be kept for student use.
bullet Discuss how authors use these to "show" not "tell" the action in their stories.

Object Game

bullet Students bring in objects and put them in the class writing idea box. On share days, pull out an object and have the students use the word walls to describe the objects.
bullet Use a large chart paper and ask for more qualifying words to narrow down the exact details of the object or qualifiers that describe the object better. Do this as a class.