It’s been so long since I posted here that I couldn’t remember how to do it. But yesterday I was driving to Connecticut and I heard this interview on NPR with science journalist Jon Hamilton, and had to share it.

I keep harping on the subject of how word choice affects the reader’s brain, and how important it is to choose textural words—words that activate the senses—because even though I think students understand this in theory (I get a lot of nodding agreement!), they don’t always put this theory into practice. Each. Word. Matters. If it’s an empty word, the brain doesn’t do any work. That’s why a bad day is just a bad day, but a rough day has texture. Something lights up in the brain (See? I just did it! Something lit up in YOUR brain.) And an active brain is an engaged brain. An engaged reader is a happy reader. An engaged reader KEEPS reading. 

How can I keep you engaged? Yes, I have to have something interesting to say. But I also have to say it in an interesting way. Bring you into the story unexpectedly—because of language, structure, point of view—and keep you there because you have to work a little. Not because I’m oblique. But because I’ve engaged you.

The words matter. Listen to this interview. And next time you sit down to write, make sure to tickle me. Or pinch me. Or captivate me. Or even make me snore.