Writing: Elements of Style

Word Choice

The words that you use in your writing can be very important in the effect you make on your readers. You can use certain words to make a stronger impact or to hint at something. Take a look at the following sentences.

"Don't come near me!" Bobby said.

"Don't come near me!" Bobby snapped.

The second sentence is much more effective since it better describes how Bobby said the sentence. The word snapped tells us that Bobby is annoyed and frustrated, while the word said doesn't tell us that.

Next time, instead of using the word said, you can try using one of the words in the picture to the right depending on what mood or situation you are trying to write about!


"Give me the money," the robber said.

Come up with some examples of words that could replace said to create a more impactful sentence!

There is no right answer, but some examples could be demanded, roared, yelled, threatened, etc.

Word choice is not only important when writing dialogue. Here's another set of example sentences.

I hate summer because the weather is hot.

I loathe summer because the weather is scorching.

Loathe makes it clear that you have very strong feelings against summer, and scorching is a powerful word that tells the reader that you mean very, very hot.

You can use a thesaurus to find more descriptive, effective words.

Transition Words

Transition words are important for your writing so that you can connect your ideas and sentences. Without transition words, your writing is only a collection of sentences, but transition words help bring your writing together into one piece.

I pushed the cup. It broke.

I pushed the cup. As a result, it broke.

Adding the transition phrase "as a result" makes it even clearer that the cup broke because you pushed it.

He is a kind friend. He gave me his pencil yesterday.

He is a kind friend. For example, he gave me his pencil yesterday.

"For example" makes it clear that you're giving an example of your friend's kindness.

Sentence Variation

It's important that your sentences aren't all the same length and of the same variety. When you write, you should change up the structure of your sentences so that there is better flow and it is more interesting for the reader. Look at the following example:

Billy walked to his classroom on Monday. He sat down in his chair. He opened his book to page 50.

These sentences all follow the same pattern and is boring to read. See the revised sentence below.

On Monday, Billy walked to his classroom. After he sat down in his chair, he opened his book to page 50.

This revised sentence has some variety in sentence structure and sounds better to read.

Tips for sentence variation:

  • Use transition words

  • Combine sentences

  • Rearrange words and phrases