Diction and Style

Every writer has his/her own style, and good editors know how to enhance that style. After all, that’s one of an editor’s main jobs.

What is style? It’s how a writer expresses himself/herself on the page. One factor contributing to style is diction—word choice.

The words a writer chooses contribute not only to his/her literary style but also its tone. Some writers use a straightforward, unadorned style using everyday words while others use flowery language, big words, and lots of imagery. To determine whether these styles are appropriate, consider two things: audience and purpose.


When writing for the general reader, avoid multi-syllable Latinate words – English words that originated from Latin. Use common English words instead. If writing for a scientific or scholarly publication, use Latinate words because readers of those publications expect it.


Why are we writing our article, story, or book? Do we want to convey joy, anger, concern? Or something else. Choose words that convey our purpose and meaning. Let’s look at the first paragraph of an article I wrote for “HiCall,” an Assemblies of God publication.

Inheriting the Promises of God

The moon beamed her pale silver light over us as we slowly waded in shallow gulf waters. An occasional seagull flew overhead, laughing at our plight. Sometimes we felt the gentle bumps of needlefish as they followed my father’s floundering light. Crabs scurried along the sandy bottom as we approached them. We began to tire, and it seemed we had walked for hours….


My Audience: Teenaged boys, so I chose a subject that would appeal to them—floundering with my father.

My Tone: A sense of pleasantness and relaxation while on a vacation. I hope you felt it.

Diction: Happy and pleasant details/words—the moon beaming, seagulls laughing, gentle bumps.

Inheriting the Promises of God

Frustrated Tone

The moon sneaked behind forbidding clouds as we waded aimlessly in shallow gulf waters. A seagull’s cackle mocked us. Needlefish rammed our legs—stupid fish! Crabs fled every direction along the sandy bottom. After all the pitiful hours my father and I trudged, we were exhausted. Where were the flounders?


In this revision, I used negative words such as sneaked, forbidding, aimlessly, mocked, rammed. stupid, pitiful, trudged and exhausted. I also ended with a question, which highlighted my frustration. I hope you see the difference..

Photo Credit: NOAA Ocean Exploration and Research

Choose your words carefully when you write. Oh, by the way, my father and I ended up with lots of flounders before the night was over.

Quick Tip: Implication

One effective way to describe something is through implication. The famous Russian author, Anton Chekhov, once said: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on the broken glass.” When he said this, he was speaking about using implication. If we see the light on the broken glass at night, this implies that the moon is shining.

Four Benefits of Journaling

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Ever since I started writing seriously in the mid-1980s, I’ve kept journals. I didn’t use those fancy leather-bound journals available at some stores, though they are fine to use. My earliest journals were on inexpensive spiral notebooks. As a writer, I’ve found journaling an invaluable tool for my craft.

How often should one write in them? Some will recommend people write in them every day. Although I’m not opposed to this, I don’t write in my journal every day. I do, however, try to write in it as often as I can.

Journaling has lots of benefits for writers and non-writers. I share four of these benefits here.

Four Benefits

  1. Journaling is therapeutic. When we’re going through a difficult time or a personal crisis, journaling helps us express our emotions. By writing, we can vent our feelings and find release from stress. Psychologist James Pennebaker says journaling reduces “the impact of stressors on our immune system.”
  2. Journaling helps our creativity and also helps to overcome writer’s block. Through journaling, we can practice new styles of writing and experiment without the pressure of deadlines. Sometimes, ideas will pop into our heads for stories or articles. Keep a running list of these ideas in a journal.
  3. Journaling improves our writing. Through journaling we learn to express ourselves better, and this includes clearer conversations with other people too.
  4. When we journal on a regular basis, we develop self-discipline. Self-discipline — writing everyday regardless of how we feel — is one of the keys to succeeding as a writer.

If you haven’t been journaling, why not start today? All you need is a pen and notebook. It’s never too late.


Lidia Kesarovska,  “The 17 Benefits of Journaling That Will Motivate You to Start Writing Tomorrow,” Let’s Reach Success (blog)January 9, 2020, https://letsreachsuccess.com/benefits-of-journaling/

“Benefits of Journaling: The Science and Philosophy Behind Keeping a Diary,” Intelligent Change (blog), https://www.intelligentchange.com/blogs/read/benefits-of-journaling, n.d.

Thai Nguyen, “Ten Surprising Benefits You’ll Get From Keeping a Journal,” HuffPost, February 13, 2015 https://www.huffpost.com/entry/benefits-of-journaling-_b_6648884

“How to Write Better: 5 Benefits of Journaling,” MasterClass, August 30, 2021, https//www.masterclass.com/articles/benefits-of-journaling

Ethical Writing: Quoting the Bible

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Is it possible for Christian writers to get in legal trouble when they quote the Bible? Yes. This is especially true for indie authors. To quote any modern translation requires written permission from that translation’s publisher. If we quote it without permission, not only is it unethical, it also breaks copyright law.

Copyright law does have a Fair Use clause which says a writer may quote a certain amount of copyrighted material without permission. However, it doesn’t specify how much an author may quote. It’s always wise, in my opinion, to ask for it first. As an indie author, I use the Authorized King James Version because it’s in the public domain in the United States. In the United Kingdom, a writer still needs permission. It’s copyrighted there.

For United Kingdom authors., here’s an important link: Rights and Permissions | Cambridge University Press

Typically, traditional publishers have a contractual agreement with certain Bible publishers. In their guidelines for writers, they specify which translations they use. Thus, writers for these publishers needn’t worry about getting permission.

Of course, indie authors can use modern translations if they get permission first. The best way to do this is to visit a Bible publisher’s website and click on its “Terms of Use” or similar link, usually at the bottom of the Home page. Then read what it says regarding its copyright status and how to obtain permission. Sometimes, it’ll lead us to another page where we can fill out a request form to submit.

Steps to Follow, B & H Publishers

  1. Visit Home – B&H Publishing (bhpublishinggroup.com).
  2. Scroll down to the bottom of the Home Page.
  3. Under “About Us,” click on “Privacy Policy and Terms.”
  4. Under the “Permissions” section, click here.
  5. On the Permissions Page, click on Licensing and Permissions Request form
  6. Fill out form and submit

This is how to request permission from the B & H Publishing Group. Other Bible publishers use a similar procedure.