Adding Magic to Writing


From: Melissa Forney


– These are the sound effect words or descriptive words that add an element of sound to your writing. Onomatopoeia makes things “come alive” for the reader, and helps him feel like he’s right there in the middle of the action.

Pop! Crash! Drip! Jingle!

The wind whispered woooooooooo outside my window, lulling me to sleep.

Strong Verbs

– Strong verbs are verbs we can picture. They create rich “mind movies” in the imaginations of your readers.

Scooted. Dragged. Flopped. Bolted. Twisted.

Sprang. Irritated. Comforted. Tortured.

Amelia rocketed to the nurse’s station and blurted, “Someone’s been hurt!”

Rename the Noun

– Using the same main noun over and over can be boring for your reader. Think of ways to rename the noun. The new name has to be one you can substitute for the original noun. If you were writing about alligators, you could choose one of many ways to rename the noun:

Dangerous swamp dwellers Slithering predators Meat-eating stalkers

Scaly reptiles Interesting creatures Creatures of the deep


This means conversation. Dialogue makes your reader feel connected to the speakers about whom youare writing. We let the readerknow someone is speaking by using quotation marks.

“Throwing the basketball from the free throw line is challenging,” Coach said.

“Will you teach me?” Benjy asked.

– Similes are when we compare two things using the words “like” or “as” to connect them. We do this to make a point.

“Let George move the piano because he is as strong as an ox.” I laughed like a hyena when Billy bit into that candied apple.

Marissa drives her convertible like a maniac when she’s angry. That song is as soothing as a lullaby.


– Metaphors are direct comparison of two things without using the words “like” or “as.” We use them to make a point.

Let George move the piano because he is an ox. My sister is a total headache. She drives me crazy.

Marissa is a maniac when she is angry. Our first practice was a train wreck.


– Adjectives are words that describe nouns and help the reader form mental pictures of what we are writing about.

Carlos tossed out the muddy, scratched baseball from the dugout.

Frieda shook her shining, black mane and tail in the brilliant, gleaming sunlight.

Transitional Phrases and Sentences

– Transitional phrases and sentences form smooth “bridges” from one topic (or thought) to the next.

The first step is easy! If you think that’s bad, listen to what happened next.

This is my favorite part. You won’t believe what my sister did then.


– Writers use grabbers to get the reader’s attention at the beginning of a writing piece. Grabbers can be a single word, a phrase, or a sentence

or two that pulls the reader into your story. With grabbers, anything goes.

C-R-E-A-K!! That sound sent cold chills up my spine as the door to the basement slowly began to swing open during the thunderstorm.

There’s a killer in the ocean that is far worse than any great white shark: it destroys its victims with a slow, lingering death, and its name is...oil.


– Zingers are just like grabbers, but they are used at the very end to add a little “something extra” to your writing. A zinger could be a song lyric, a line from a poem, a catchy phrase, or a direct comment, among other things. With zingers, anything goes.

Thanks, Dad, for saving my life.

 To Infinity, and BEYOND!

Shame on you, oil companies! It’s true: girls run the world.

Sizzling Vocabulary

– These pizzazzy words add drama, beauty, and maturity to your writing.

flamboyant precipitous sinewy aroma skedaddle plethora magnificent hideous hallelujah outstanding overwhelming

Vo i c e

– When you add your own personality to your writing, it gives your writing a personal tone. We call this voice. You don’t want to overdo it: a little goes a long way. Try writing with your natural voice so you sound like the real you.

You think I care what she thinks? No way. She can go her way and I’ll go mine.

Alligators are living, breathing, eating machines. Running into one in the water could be my worst nightmare. Yikes!


– Yep, believe it or not, adverbs can add beauty and details to our writing. They paint pictures so the reader can imagine exactly what we are writing about.

I quickly scooted out of the room, so my mom wouldn’t see me. She urgently waved her hand to get Binh’s attention. Tenderly, soothingly, she sang the baby to sleep. Aida yawned silently, so the teacher wouldn’t hear her.