Red shoes with sass and sparkleI recently headed up to Sydney to see the musical Kinky Boots.

Two-and-half exuberant hours of sass and sparkle, cheek and charm.

Surprisingly, also a little lesson about writing.

It wasn’t just the costumes and catchy tunes that captivated the audience.

It was also the words that rolled off the stage.

Words like adulation, tubular, humdrum, ostentatious, contagious and devilishly debonair.

Words with texture and sparkle. Words that provoked and amused.

Words that demanded attention.

OK, I’ll admit the equivalent of red glitter stilettos is probably a step too far for most business or government writing.

But you can still lift your work with a smidge of sass.

Give this a try:

  • make the thesaurus your friend—why ‘develop’ when you can ‘craft’, ‘cultivate’, ‘accelerate’ or ‘amplify’?
  • add rhythm—vary the pace and pattern of your text with different sentence length and structure
  • appeal to the senses—words that evoke our senses light up our brains (think ‘velvet’ rather than ‘smooth’)
  • use alliteration—repeated sounds focus attention and create atmosphere or tone (‘sass and sparkle, cheek and charm’).

Think twice before resorting to boring terminology and dreary sentences.

Go on, indulge in a little word-nerdery…your readers will thank you.


‘Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.’
Professor Albus Dumbledore (JK Rowling)


Cinden Lester has more than 25 years’ experience as a professional writer, editor and communications specialist. She worked as a broadcast journalist, in private sector marketing and public relations, and in government communications before establishing her own Canberra-based communications consultancy in 2000.

Contact Cinden if you’d like help with your communications.

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