Add Power To Your Writing

Please welcome Caroline Clemmons, author of Brazos Bride.(Isn't that a beautiful cover?)

Caroline writes mystery, romance, and adventure. She's been a stay-at-home mom (which she claims as her favorite job), a newspaper reporter and featured columnist, assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal, and bookkeeper. Caroline and her husband live in rural North Central Texas with a menagerie of rescued pets.

You can catch Caroline on her blog on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays where she offers book reviews, giveaways, interviews, and miscellany. Also, find Caroline on Facebook
or Caroline on Twitter just about any day (No E in Caroline on her Twitter handle).

Add Power To Your Writing
by Caroline Clemmons

Are there authors you read simply for the beautifully expressive way they write? There are numerous authors I turn to for inspiration. One of the reasons for their impact is they use active verbs, unique metaphors, and nouns that paint word pictures. They never tell, never use clich├ęs; instead, they show so well we drink in their pages.

Each of us knows to avoid weak words: felt, just, simply, etc. But avoiding those words is not enough, we have to come up with dynamic ways to express our character’s thoughts and feelings so people will read and reread our books.

For instance, I might write: “The Gothic Revival house had been opulent at one time, but now displayed its age.” Nothing really wrong with that, is there?

Sarah Addison Allen in The Girl Who Chased The Moon:

The house looked nothing like the rest of the houses in the neighborhood. It had probably been an opulent white at one time, but now it was gray, and its Gothic Revival pointed-arch windows were dusty and opaque. It was outrageously flaunting its age, spitting paint chips and old roofing shingles into the yard.

I might write: “Dust motes danced in the dwindling sunlight.” Picturesque, right?

Sarah Addison Allen wrote: No lights were on, but the last sunlight of the day was coughing through the dining room windows, directly to her left.

Can’t you picture the sunlight streaming in through a window like someone’s mouth coughing little particles of dust motes into the room? Not a pretty picture perhaps, but the allusion is terrific in the book.

Has stress ever left you disoriented or frozen? Here is Lori Wilde’s description of her heroine’s reaction in All of Me:

"Yes," Jillian said, but she could barely hear herself. She was a bright kite who’d broken loose from its tether, flying high into a cloudless blue sky. Up, up, and away, higher and higher, smaller and smaller. Soon she would disappear, a speck in the sky. What was happening to her?

Go through your favorite books and pick out choice phrases you wish you’d written. Go through your work in progress and see if there are places you can reword to increase the vivid idea you wish to convey. Editing for vivid verbs, unique phrases, and picturesque nouns will result in greater readership.

In my latest work, Brazos Bride: Men of Stone Mountain, Book One, I struggled with making the three Stone brothers’ dialogue distinctive. They are similar in appearance and share a close bond. Naturally, their speech is similar. But each needed a distinctive speech pattern so the reader could recognize the speaker without action or dialogue tags. Oh, I usually include the tags, but the point is to make the dialogue so specific that a tag is not necessary. I hope you will read Brazos Bride and will find the dialogue (and the entire book) satisfies you.

Quick Synopsis: Brazos Bride

Hope Montoya knows someone is poisoning her, but who? She suspects her mother was also poisoned and knows her father was murdered. Who wants her family eliminated? She vows to fight! She realizes she won’t last the eight months until she turns twenty-five and her uncle no longer controls her or her estate. Never will she be dominated by a man as she was by her father, as she has seen her mother and grandmothers dominated. If she marries, she gains control now, but only if she weds a man she can trust. Only one man meets her requirements. Can she trust him to protect her and capture the killer...but then to leave?

Micah Stone has been in love with Hope since the first time he saw her. But he was accused of her father’s murder and surely would have hung if not for his two brothers’ aid. Most in the community still believe him guilty. But the drought has him too worried about water for his dying cattle to care about his neighbors’ opinions. When Hope proposes a paper marriage in exchange for land on the Brazos River and much needed cash, her offer rubs his pride raw. His name may be Stone, but he’s not made of it. He can’t refuse her for long, and so their adventure begins.

Except: Brazos Bride, The Wedding Night

She looked at her hands. Perhaps she was unreasonable. Or maybe insane for sympathizing with a man who'd had to work harder because of her family.

"I know it is an odd situation. If—if you wear your shirt and britches, I guess it would be all right if you slept on top of the cover here." She patted the bed beside her.

He froze. Not a muscle moved, and he only stared at her. Had she misunderstood? Did he think her offer too forward?

She babbled, "That is, if you want to. You said I should trust you. Well, maybe you would be more comfortable where you are." Why didn't he say something? Would he prefer sleeping in a chair to sharing the bed?

From the street below, she heard raucous laughter and someone called to a man named Ben. Music from a piano, she supposed in the saloon, drifted in through the open windows. A gust of breeze moved the curtains and slid across her skin. In this room, though, there was no sound.
Slowly, he rose and extinguished the lamp as he moved across the room. She slid one of the pillows beside hers then scooted down. What had possessed her to offer him half her bed? Would he think she invited more?

Too late to take it back now, for the mattress dipped as he stretched out. Quaking inside at the thought of him so near, she turned her back to him. She heard his weary sigh, as if he relaxed for the first time in a long while.

"Good night," she offered, and hoped he understood the finality of the phrase.

"Yep. Good night, Mrs. Stone." The mattress shook as he turned his back to her. She felt the soles of his feet press against her ankles. He must be several inches too long for the bed and she guessed he had to bend his legs to fit. She didn't dare turn to see firsthand.

She lay perfectly still, afraid to take a deep breath. Soon his breathing changed and she knew he slept. Outside the open window the town quieted and the distant tinkling of the piano was the only sound. Light from the full moon illuminated the room and slanted across the bed. A soft breeze drifted across her, lulling her in its caress.

With a sigh, she fought to relax, but abdominal pain kept her awake no matter how her body cried for rest. Perhaps if she planned, she’d forget the pain and chills that racked her frame.
Plan, yes. She needed a plan for food preparation when she returned to her home. No, Micah said he had a plan. Oh, dear, once more he took charge when it was her life, her home. Maybe Aunt Sofia and Uncle Jorge would have left by then and things would be fine. Already she felt more secure. She sensed her eyelids drifting closed and the sleep’s blessed relief approaching.

A gunshot ripped apart the night.

The blast startled her and she screamed as something thudded near her head, showering her hair and face with splinters. Panic immobilized her. What had happened?

Micah dragged her onto the floor as a bullet ripped into the mattress.

Takeaway Truth

Readers, Caroline's latest book Brazos Bride is bargain-priced at only 99 cents at Amazon. Check it out today.


  1. Joan, thank you for having me as your guest today.

  2. Hi Caroline, as you said and showed it so well, the right verbs help a good story flow. I enjoyed you excerpt.