I was told once to think about what I had to say before said it. Phrasing this differently means to choose your words wisely. As a writer, I take this very seriously as I’m pounding away on my works in progress and when I’m revising. If I do this correctly, I can tell my readers so much more about my characters than what I actually put on the page.
Your word choice can set a mood, it can tip your hand without saying something bluntly, and it can help your characterization.
For instance, in my newest novel, DARE YOU TO, Ryan is a high school baseball player considering the Pros after graduation. In the first chapter of the book, Ryan is dared to get Beth’s phone number. When he finds out that she has no plans in being involved in this scheme, Ryan steps up his game (notice the last word I just used there).
Ring the bell. Playtime ended with those words. Purposely invading her space, I steal a step toward her and place a hand on the counter next to her body.
To describe Ryan, I used the word playtime and the verb steal. Ryan is a baseball player who doesn’t like to lose. In keeping true to Ryan’s character, he’s going to speak internally and externally in words that he’s surrounded by. Stealing base is something he thinks about often.
Also, pay attention to the phrase: ring the bell.
Several images can be created by this: the bell ringing to signal the start of a boxing match (which is what I was imaging since Beth and Ryan always seem to go several rounds with each other).
Or as my husband would sometimes trash talk while playing basketball: ring the bell because I’m taking you to school.
Either image is one that works for me. It shows how Ryan is determined and loves to win.
So when writing or revising, think about who your character is, what makes them tick, think about what types of words they would use, then you can use that to your advantage!