Some of the best advice I ever read was to always make the reader feel the emotions instead of just using words like “She was sad”. Let them feel the sadness, feel the despair welling up inside of them. Have them relate instead of just telling them how it is. Let them describe the moment as sad.
I wanted to start off with this topic. What is the power of a word? Obviously it has some power, otherwise books wouldn’t exist. They wouldn’t be enjoyable or readable if nothing made any sort of impact on the reader. The book would remain flat and dull. The power of a word is how you use it and where you place it. I can say “He loves her very much.” and place “only” in front of most of the words and it would mean something totally different. Does he love only her? He only loves her sounds ominous as if someone’s jealous and wants him to love them too. Let’s change it around a little. “Only, he loved her.” This reflects a sort of curious observation like someone just remarks upon this fact as if just realizing it.
The question I want to ask you next is this. How powerful are your words? Are you using difficult words that people have to look up to make yourself seem smarter? Are you using words dumbed down enough that every crowd can read them and the more sophisticated reader might reject as being easy reading or childlike? You should use words to target your specific type of audience. A murder mystery can be more adept at wordplay, throwing in the occasional word to look up in your dictionary, because children won’t likely be reading them. Is your book adult themed or child themed? Who is it targeting and why? Will that age group enjoy that book if you wrote to a different category? Dystopian will most likely draw the young adult range while stories of children’s adventures will target kids. Sci fi may appeal to more boys than girls; romance appeals mostly to women. Now use the wordplay that these audiences will identify with. Use the words to make these people imagine your world. Murder mysteries are complex, throwing you a loop every time you’ve thought that you’ve caught the killer. They are tricky, more adult, and more dangerous in the theme. They have more risk. You can take risks with the wordplay as well. It shouldn’t be a mystery who your main audience is. (pun intended, HA!)
Learn your audience; learn your motive; learn how to play your audience and keep them on the edge of their seat because John is about to jump off that cliff. Make them feel the fear of the gun pressed against his back. Learn the power behind the words.