Princess Iseult of Brittany,
Eric Slack Collection.
A few weeks ago Charles made several pertinent posts on the use and value of ending one's sentences/paragraphs with strong words.
Of course, if you screw up your parallelism or construct a series with an unintended anti-climax, all the strong words in the world will not save you.
But with the usual kiss of the fingers to subjectivity, what words are vivid, solid, strong?
Off and on, I've been playing coroner with this concept, because, sans dire -- but I'll say it anyway -- word choice is the heart of writing.
Without effective language, our prose will be relegated to a John Doe toe tag and a cold vault.
Words depend (1) on image. Concrete, specific pictures. Or quick, recognizable abstracts.
Blade, sword and knife are strong words. Stronger than weapon.
Fear is a stronger word than anxiety.
Words depend on (2) resonance, on our cumulative, cultural history for their strength and power. For their images. An abstract like liberty, for example, includes the resonance of blood.
Words also depend on (3) stress, emphasis, sound, to ring true .
In poetry every word must count. Poetry dissects the mechanics of sound, of assonance and dissonance, of weight and force.
Of rhythm. Of pulse.
Iambic (~ ! )and anapestic (~~!) meters are usually considered the strongest line endings, with trochaic ( !~)and dactylic (!~~) stress patterns the weaker.
Perhaps blunt force trauma words are stronger than words with trailing syllables.
And then there's Tennyson:
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-towered Camelot.
Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs forever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
But it's never simple. The force and jolt of certain words also depends on concept and context and on their relationship with other words in a sentence.
In isolation, weapon may be a weaker word than blade -- it's mutiple, it's general, it's dactylic -- but it may strike like a pole-axe when used, as I have seen it, abruptly in a thriller.
Sleep is a weapon.
Probably the best advice on chosing strong words is the suggestion that you trust your ear.
Read your words aloud.