But what if you really want to show the character smiling? You want to use that word, but too much can be a turn off. You can use other words. You can still get the message across. Saying the same thing but using different words actually makes the story stronger and more alive.
He smiled at her.
You read this sentence, and you see the man smiling at someone. But what kind of smile? Just a smile? What is behind the smile? A different word saying the same thing can change this whole picture. The smile can be romantic, gentle, evil, or grandfatherly pleasant.
Right now you probably can’t think of any other words. You want to say he was smiling. But there are several words you can use instead of smile: beam, grin, simper, smirk, break into a smile, crack a smile.
He beamed at her. – His smile is now brighter and more joyful. It is not just a smile.He is radiant. He is shining for the world to see. This word is for the scene where there is more than just a little smile needed here. See how the scene can change with this one word change? We see the character in a whole different light with just one word changed that means the same.
He grinned at her. – This is still more than just ‘smile’. This smile now is maybe a little mischievous. Maybe he is keeping a secret. Something is up all because of one word.
He smirked at her. – A smile? Technically, yes. But….this smile has more to it. It has evil behind it. It has dark intentions. This one change in the word has created a dark and dangerous scene. The character is not acting with good intentions. Instead of saying he smiled at her with malicious intent, you say he smirked at her. The message behind the smile becomes obvious with fewer words.
See how I’ve basically said the same thing, yet the one word I changed using a thesaurus has created an entirely new scene? Even the reactions between the characters is different. The entire atmosphere of the scene changes from example to example. My story is now richer.