I needed to find out which South American country was the hottest, in terms of temperature or climate.  So I went to my favorite search engine, Google, and typed in the following:  hottest South American country

Here are my less than helpful results:


In case you can’t read the small print, the majority of the hits the search returned were referring to “hot women”.  Definitely not what I was looking for.  But based on the order of my words, that’s what Google thought I meant.

In going for a more context appropriate search I Googled:  hottest country in South America

Now this is more of what I was looking for:


The moral of the story – the order of words DOES matter.  Based on that order, we can mean drastically different things.  In turn, what we say and how we say it can elicit an entirely different emotional response from the reader.  The last thing we want to do is pull the reader out of our story emotionally.  One of the best ways to check for this is to read your work aloud.  Just try not to do it in a public place, or you’ll probably get some weird looks.