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Spellbinding Sentences by Barbara Baig

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Chapter 5

Making Meaning

Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret of style.

—Matthew Arnold

A writer’s style is formed in part by the words he chooses. But how does the writer make those choices? Does he just select the words he likes best? Or are there other considerations?

While it’s certainly true that a writer’s choice of words comes in part from personal preference, writers who want their words to have power need to select, from all the choices available, the words that best convey what they want to say. One of the things that gives words their power is precision of meaning. Skilled writers care about the accuracy of their words. They know, for instance, that even though a thesaurus may group certain ...

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