317 Power Words That’ll Instantly Make You a Better Writer

Ever noticed how some writers have an uncanny ability to toy with your emotions?

Within the span of a few pages, you can go from shaking with excitement to bawling your eyes out to flying into a rage and throwing the book across the room. It’s the hallmark of great writing, proof of mastery of the craft, and the yardstick by which aspiring writers measure their work.

And it goes beyond storytelling.

Sure, taking the reader on an emotional roller coaster ride is essential in novels and short stories, but what about emails, resumes, blog posts, proposals? They’re all designed to influence the reader in some way. You want to pass along information, yes, but you also want the reader to feel a certain way about that information.

Maybe you want to impress them, get them excited, make them cautious, get them angry, encourage them to keep going, or any number of emotions. The better a job you do at making them feel, the more influential you are, and the better your chances of getting what you want.

So, you might wonder… how?

The world is full of people who can scribble down their ideas, but to bring those ideas to life, to make them take up residence in the mind of the reader, lurking in the background, tugging, pulling, and cajoling their emotions until they think and feel exactly as you want? That’s a rare skill indeed.

The good news is it can be yours. There’s even a shortcut.

becoming a better writer

How to Instantly Become a Better Writer

It’s simple:

Use power words.

Rather than describe what I mean, let’s deconstruct an example from the great Winston Churchill:

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.

Inspiring, right?

Well, there was a lot on the line. Under attack from Germany, Britain was fighting for its survival, and somehow, someway, Churchill had to find a way to inspire his countrymen to greatness.

He chose words. Or, to be more accurate, power words.

Let’s take a look at the passage again, this time with all the power words underlined:

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.

Each underlined word makes the audience feel something. In this case, Churchill intermixes words that cause fear, such as “struggle,” “tyranny,” and “terror,” with words that cause hope, such as “strength,” “God,” and “victory.” The last, in particular, is repeated over and over, practically drilling the emotion into the minds of the audience.

It’s no accident. Smart speakers, as well as their speechwriters, sprinkle their speeches with carefully-chosen power words, drawing the audience from one emotion to another as skillfully as any novelist or screenwriter.

Granted, that’s not all they do. The best writers use an entire tool chest of techniques to create emotion, and power words are only one such tool.

But there’s good news.

For beginning writers, power words are one of the easiest tools to master. Unlike many storytelling strategies which can take years of practice to master, you can start sprinkling power words into your writing, and you’ll notice an immediate lift in the quality of your prose.

All you lack is a list of power words to use, but of course, I have you covered there too. ?

 

317 Power Words to Start Using Immediately

For years now, every time I mentioned power words to my students, someone always asked:

“Where can I get a list? Is there a book I can buy?”

Sadly, not that I’m aware of.  That’s why I created this list.

Slowly, over a period of several weeks, I catalogued all the power words that jumped out to me, organizing them into categories based on the emotion you want to create, so you can easily find the right word. In the future, I’ll also update the list, adding new words on a regular basis to make it the most comprehensive list of power words available anywhere.

It costs nothing. All I ask in return is you share it with your friends and readers when appropriate, helping it reach the people who need it most.

Enjoy.

 

Calling All Fearmongers

Let’s do a little experiment.

Just for a moment, stop reading this post, turn on the television, and go to a major news channel. Watch it for five minutes, listening for the words below.

Chances are, you’ll hear dozens of them. Here’s why:

Fear is without a doubt the most powerful emotion for grabbing and keeping an audience’s attention. To make sure you don’t change the channel, news networks load up with fear words, making you worry you might miss something important.

It’s effective. Granted, you can overdo it, but in my opinion, most writers don’t use these types of words nearly enough. They really do connect with people.

Here’s a bunch to get you started:

Apony Fooled Pummel
Apocalupse Frantic Poor
Armageddon Frightening Prison
Assault Gambling Pus
Backlash Gullible Reckoning
Beating Hack Refugee
Beware Hazardous Revenge
Blinded Hoax Risky
Blood Holocaust Scary
Bloodbath Horrific Scream
Bloodcurdling Hurricane Searing
Bloody Insidious Shatter
Bomb Invasion Shellacking
Buffoon IRS Silly
Bumbling Jail Slaughter
Cadaver Jeopardy Slave
Catastrophe Lawsuit Smash
Caution Looming Strangle
Collapse Lunatic Stupid
Corpse Lukring Suck
Crazy Meltdown Tailspin
Cripple Mired Tank
Crisis Mistake Targeted
Danger Murder Teetering
Deadly Nightmare Terror
Death Painful Terrorist
Destroy Pale Toxic
Devastating Panic Trap
Disastrous Peril Vaporize
Drowning Piranha Victim
Dumb Pitfall Volatile
Embarrass Plague Vulnerable
Fail Played Warning
Feeble Plummet Worry
Fired Plunge Wounded
Fool Poison

 

Give Your Readers a Pep Talk

Let’s face it.

When they’re reading, most people aren’t exactly bouncing off the walls with energy and enthusiasm. They’re probably bored, maybe a little depressed, and almost definitely tired. And they’re looking for something, anything, that’ll wake them up and make them feel better.

The good news?

Your writing can do that for them. Use these power words to give them a pep talk and get them charged up again:

Bravery

Amazing Eye-opening Miracle
Audacity Faith Pluck
Backbone Fearless Sensational
Belief Fulfill Spectacular
Blissful Grateful Spine
Grit Spirit
Breathtaking Guts Staggering
Cheer Happy Stunning
Conquer Heart Surprising
Courage Hero Triumph
Daring Hope Uplifting
Defiance Jaw-dropping Valor
Delight Jubilant Victory
Devoted Magic Wonderful
Excited Mind-Blowing Wondrous

 

Take a Page from Cosmopolitan (or Playboy)

Like it or not, lust is one of the core human emotions.

Just look at the men’s and women’s magazines in the checkout aisle, and you’ll see what I mean. Nearly every headline on the cover is either blatantly or indirectly about sex.

And it works, not just for men’s and women’s magazines, but for anything. As a writer, you can use words that inspire lust to make almost anything intriguing.

For example: take a look at these two posts I wrote for Copyblogger:

Brazen Lust Sleeping
Crave Naked Spank
Depraved Naughty Steamy
Dirty Provocative Sweaty
Exposed Scandalous Tantalizing
Forbidden Sensual Tawdry
Hypnotic Sex Thrilling
Lascivious Shameless Uncensored
Lick Sinful Wanton
Lonely Sleazy Whip

 

Sex, Lies, and the Art of Commanding Attention

Copyblogger Editor Admits to Sleeping with Readers and Recommends You Do the Same

Both posts use the power of lust to teach people about headlines, of all things. Proof positive that it can be used for anything.

Here’s a lascivious list to get you started:

Abuse Foul Pound
Arrogant Hate Preposterous
Ass kicking Know it all Punish
Backstabbing Lies Revolting
Beatdown Loathsome Ruthless
Bullshit Loser Sick and Tired
Bully Lying Smug
Coward Maul Sniveling
Crooked Money-grubbing Snob
Crush Nazi Snooty
Disgusting No Good Snotty
Evil Obnoxious Stuck up
Force-fed Payback Underhander

 

Start a Riot

As writers, sometimes our job is to anger people.

Not for the fun of it, mind you, but because someone is doing something wrong, and the community needs to take action to correct it. The problem is, with wrongdoing, most people are pretty apathetic – they’ll wait until the situation becomes entirely intolerable to do anything, and by then, it’s often too late.

So, we have to fan the flames. By using the below power words, you can connect with people’s anger, and slowly but surely, you can work them into a frenzy. Just be careful who you target. Lawyers can eat you alive if you pick on the wrong person. ?

how to improve your writing

Stomp on Their Greed Glands

The legendary copywriter Gary Halbert once said, “If you want people to buy something, stomp on their greed glands until they bleed.” Graphic, yes, but also true.

Skim through good sales copy, and you’ll find a lot of these power words. Many of them are so overused they’ve become cliché, but that doesn’t stop them from working.

The truth is, nearly every human being on the planet is interested in either making or saving money. Use these words to tap into those desires:

Bargain Freebie Profit
Best Frenzy Quarduple
Billion Frugal Reduced
Bonanza Gift Rich
Cash Greatest Savings
Cheap Inexpensive Six-figure
Discount Jackpot Skyrocket
Dollar Luxurious Soaring
Double Marked down Surge
Explode Massive Treasure
Extra Money Triple
Feast Nest egg Whopping
Fortune Pay zero
Free Prize

 

Make Them Feel Safe

Greed isn’t the only emotion you want buyers to feel. You also want to make them feel safe.

They need to trust both you and your product or service. They need to have confidence you’ll deliver. They need to believe they’ll get results.

Of course, building that kind of trust starts with having a quality brand and reputation, but the words you use to describe yourself and your product or service also matter. To help your customers feel safe, try to use as many of these power words as possible:

Anonymous Moneyback Refund
Authentic No Obligation Research
Backed No Questions Asked Results
Best-selling No Risk Secure
Cancel Anytime No Strings Attached Tested
Certified Official Try before You Buy
Endorsed Privacy Verify
Guaranteed Protected Unconditional
Ironclad Proven
Lifetime Recession-proof

 

Offer Them a Forbidden Fruit

Remember when you were a kid, and someone told you NOT to do something? From that point on, you could think about little else, right?

The truth is, we’re all fascinated by the mysterious and forbidden. It’s like it’s programmed into our very nature.

So why not tap into that programming?

Whenever you need to create curiosity, sprinkle these power words throughout your writing, and readers won’t be able to help being intrigued:

Backdoor Confidential
Banned Controversial
Behind the Scenes Covert
Black Market Cover-Up
Blacklisted Forbidden
Bootleg Forgotten
Censored Hidden
Concealed Illegal
Confessions Insider
Lost
Off-limits
Outlawed
Private
Secrets
Smuggled
Strange
Unauthorized
Withheld

 

Source: SmartBlogger

Want to become a better writer? Get help from the professional marketing team — Top4, a Sydney based team whose sole purpose is to drive more traffic, leads and sales through your business using a range of new and tested marketing techniques.

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