Last time I talked about using specific verbs and nouns for description. Let’s take that a step further and see how finding just the right word based not only on meaning, but also on sound, can affect your writing.

Connotation is defined as: “something suggested by a word.” The way that something is suggested is through the actual sound of the word. Here are some examples:

Cut, sharp, piercing–these words tend to portray what they mean through their sound. The word “cut” is sharp and pointed. It just sounds like it’s cutting through something as you say it.

Or, how about:

Round, soft, calm–these words project a totally different image. Round just feels…well, round!

In general, words that have hard consonants, especially in the beginning or end, tend to promote hard, sharp, forceful images. If you were describing a fight scene, for instance, you would want to  fill it with hard-consonant words.

On the other hand, words with softer consonant sounds and softer vowel  sounds will produce kinder, gentler words. Use these to describe a scene with a mother and baby, for instance, or to describe a mild-mannered person.

Knowing about a word’s connotation can help you create the exact tone or mood for your writing by deliberately choosing specific sounds for your words. By doing so, you can illicit the response you want from your reader.

Be sure to stop back next week as I’ll be conducting a two-part interview with author Dianne Butts on how to write winning query letters!