It’s All About the Words

The legendary Jim Morrison once said, “It’s all about the words, man. It’s all about the words.” He was right. An artist understands color can stir up emotions. A decorator knows texture is sensual. A writer appreciates the power and punch of a word. Sometimes when we strive to present a story, describe a scene, or create a character in a new, fresh, or interesting way, we lose sight of one simple fact – the craft is all about words. It’s all about how we use them, when we use them, where we use them, what words we use, and who they’re about that tell our story.

To avoid a cliché there is a temptation to over think and over reach. It’s helpful to remember that sometimes blue is blue, eyes are piercing, hearts beat, and lovers sigh. There are times when it’s better to keep it simple than drag out the thesaurus.

Words carry meaning. That sounds obvious, and elementary, yet a single poorly chosen word will yank a reader right out of a story, while a well-placed word will breathe life into a plot or flesh out a character. Just adding or changing a noun, a verb, or an adjective can create a whole new perspective or dramatically change a sentence. For example: “What a beautiful day for a parade.” vs. “What a beautiful day for a funeral.”  That’s a little extreme, but you get the point.

Some words are passive, some active, some tell, some show. George Carlin said, “There are no bad words. Just bad intent.” I would add there are no bad words, just poorly used ones. The ancients believed certain words could cast a spell. They knew what writers know – words are magic.

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5 thoughts on “It’s All About the Words

  1. Lynn,

    This is an interesting post. I agree that some words paint a better picture. I have a very dear friend who LOVES the language. She loves books where the author is all about the words. She often presses a book into my hands, sure that I’m going to love it like she does. And I read and read and think… “when is something going to happen here?”

    Some of us are all about the plot, or all about the characters. Words are just a way to paint that picture. I agree, best used, they are magic. spw

  2. Lovely post, Lynn.

    I’ll agree with you: no words are bad, not truly. They exist because we have a need for them. I remember writing my first single-title suspense. My bad-boy hero was having one sucky day, and I needed one word of dialogue, just one, to perfectly describe his outlook. The f-bomb came immediately to mind, but, hey, my MOM was going to read this book. I changed it over and over — hell, damn, darn, sh*t, etc. But the only word that worked, that fit his character, that conveyed what he needed to convey, was f***.

    And all words are there for us as authors to use. Just like an artist doesn’t limit his color choice to pastels or primaries, or a pianist doesn’t limit his keys to only the white ones, authors need to use everything out there that’s necessary — even (omg!) adjectives and adverbs — to get their story across.

    I love words, but like Sandee, I want them to take me somewhere. I don’t want to meander around through pages and pages of lovely language that says nothing!

  3. Jean,

    Welcome to the blog site. Hope you will come back often. We have a lot of fun here.

    I agree with Sandee and Marilyn, words are beautiful, but like a trail that leads nowhere, if they have no direction, they’re just a waste.

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