Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Creating Powerful Images from Ordinary Words! by DL Larson

After judging many entries this last month for the Windy City, RWA Four Seasons Contest, I wanted to share a common thread I found. Every entry I read had wonderful potential, and with a little work and tweaking, each manuscript could become an exciting page turner.

The common thread I'm talking about is the overuse of cliche's or phrases, or just worn out words that our eyes skip over rather than becoming intrigued in the story.

Here's a few examples of tired, worn out words:
- heart pounding
- palm sweating
- stomach clenching

We've all experienced these tension-filled moments. But, yawn, our eyes have read the words too many times to trigger a response the writer wants to deliver. What is lacking is a visceral reaction, an involuntary thump of excitement.

The definition of visceral response is: characterized by intuition or instinct rather than intellect. We're dealing with base emotions, gut reactions, earthy crudeness that wakes up inward feelings.

Here's a few examples of revved-up, viseral images that could easily replace the worn-out words:

- her heart slid down, down, down to her toes.
- invisible fingers squeezed her heart.
- his heart cat-a-pulted three-quarters into a coronary.
- her stomach skidded like a motorcycle on black ice.

Using viseral responses and images catches the readers attention and moves the story in a new, exciting way.

So now, you try! How would you change the following:

- heart pounding
- palm sweating
- stomach clenching

Share your visceral responses in the comment section!

Til next time ~

DL Larson
visit DL on Facebook


  1. Great examples, Deb!
    It's easy to grab a cliche. It's harder to think of a substitute that will grab a reader!

    heart pounding - chest wanted to burst
    palm sweating - the phone slipped from her wet palm
    stomach clenching - felt worse than doing sit-ups

    Best I could do on short notice!

    Morgan Mandel

  2. Great ideas! The point is to FIRST see them as potential grabbers. Then the writer can delve in and find stronger images, new fresh visions.
    Thanks for stopping by!