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But, Have YOU Said It? A Writing Challenge

Updated on February 27, 2015
Source

Words: The Writer's Resource

I'm always amazed how each writer takes the same words and creates a completely different story. Some educate, others enchant and a few entertain. Which category is most authentic for you?

This challenge is to write about how you value, use and create your finished piece using our common denominator - words.

Of all the words, which do you use?
Of all the words, which do you use? | Source

Too Few - Too Many - Just Right

I recently wrote about not understanding something. In my case, if there are too few words, or the wrong words, I might not understand. So, writers have to use correct, clear and concise words to convey their intent. However, there are some writers who over-explain. Why do we tend to do that?

  • Fear of being misunderstood
  • Fear of appearing ignorant about our subject
  • Fear of speaking plain
  • Fear of boredom

So, what do great writers have to say about words? These may help or inspire you with this challenge.

“Words could betray you if you chose the wrong ones, or mean less if you used too many. Jokes could be grandly miscalculated, or stories deemed boring, and I'd learned early on that my sense of humor and ideas about what sorts of things were fascinating didn't exactly overlap with my friends'.” ― Robyn Schneider, The Beginning of Everything

“I like to use simple words, but in a complicated way.” ― Carol Ann Duffy

“Nouns and verbs are the guts of the language. Beware of covering up with adjectives and adverbs.” ― A.B. Guthrie Jr.

Tight and Concise or Bloated Wording?

Source

Do you try to learn new words? Make friends with a dictionary or thesaurus?

See results

The Beauty of Plain Language

“I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences...Stick to it; don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them―then the rest will be valuable..." ― Mark Twain

“Works of imagination should be written in very plain language; the more purely imaginative they are the more necessary it is to be plain.” ― Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“Political writing in our time consists almost entirely of prefabricated phrases bolted together like the pieces of a child's Meccano set...To write in plain, vigorous language one has to think fearlessly, and if one thinks fearlessly one cannot be politically orthodox.” ― George Orwell, Essays

“The truth is, everyone likes to look down on someone. If your favorites are all avant-garde writers who throw in Sanskrit and German, you can look down on everyone. If your favorites are all Oprah Book Club books, you can at least look down on mystery readers. Mystery readers have sci-fi readers. Sci-fi can look down on fantasy. And yes, fantasy readers have their own snobbishness. I’ll bet this, though: in a hundred years, people will be writing a lot more dissertations on Harry Potter than on John Updike. Look, Charles Dickens wrote popular fiction. Shakespeare wrote popular fiction—until he wrote his sonnets, desperate to show the literati of his day that he was real artist. Edgar Allan Poe tied himself in knots because no one realized he was a genius.

The core of the problem is how we want to define “literature”. The Latin root simply means “letters”. Those letters are either delivered—they connect with an audience—or they don’t. For some, that audience is a few thousand college professors and some critics. For others, its twenty million women desperate for romance in their lives.Those connections happen because the books successfully communicate something real about the human experience.

Sure, there are trashy books that do really well, but that’s because there are trashy facets of humanity. What people value in their books—and thus what they count as literature—really tells you more about them than it does about the book.” ― Brent Weeks

Source

Do you work to make your words dynamic and remove passive sentences?

See results

Powerful Words

“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.” ― Emily Dickinson

“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly -- they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” ― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

“At one magical instant in your early childhood, the page of a book—that string of confused, alien ciphers—shivered into meaning. Words spoke to you, gave up their secrets; at that moment, whole universes opened. You became, irrevocably, a reader.” ― Alberto Manguel, A History of Reading

“A book is an arrangement of twenty-six phonetic symbols, ten numerals, and about eight punctuation marks, and people can cast their eyes over these and envision the eruption of Mount Vesuvius or the Battle of Waterloo.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

“You string some letters together, and you make a word. You string some words together, and you make a sentence, then a paragraph, then a chapter. Words have power.” ― Chloe Neill, Firespell

Words! What power they hold. Once they have rooted in your psyche, it is difficult to escape them. Words can shape the future of a child and destroy the existence of an adult.
Words are powerful. Be careful how you use them because once you have pronounced them, you cannot remove the scar they leave behind.” ― Vashti Quiroz-Vega

“Words have weight.” ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Source

Why do We Write All Those Words?

“Surely it is an odd way to spend your life - sitting alone in a room with a pen in your hand, hour after hour, day after day, year after year, struggling to put words on pieces of paper in order to give birth to what does not exist, except in your head.

Why on earth would anyone want to do such a thing? The only answer I have ever been able to come up with is: because you have to, because you have no choice.” ― Paul Auster

“To write as if your life depended on it; to write across the chalkboard, putting up there in public the words you have dredged; sieved up in dreams, from behind screen memories, out of silence-- words you have dreaded and needed in order to know you exist.” ― Adrienne Rich

“I long ago abandoned myself to a blind lust for the written word. Literature is my sandbox. In it I play, build my forts and castles, spend glorious time.” ― Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman

“We have no time to waste on insignificant books, hollow books, books that are there to please... We want books that cost their authors a great deal, books where you can feel the years of work, the backache, the writer's block, the author's panic at the thought that he might be lost: his discouragement, his courage, his anguish, his stubbornness, the risk of failure that he has taken.” ― Laurence Cossé, A Novel Bookstore

“Why do writers write? Because it isn't there.” ― Thomas Berger

“The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. I suppose that it begins or does not begin in the cradle. Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.” ― Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

“Mostly, we authors must repeat ourselves - that's the truth. We have two or three great and moving experiences in our lives - experiences so great and moving that it doesn't seem at the time anyone else has been so caught up and so pounded and dazzled and astonished and beaten and broken and rescued and illuminated and rewarded and humbled in just that way ever before.

Then we learn our trade, well or less well, and we tell our two or three stories - each time in a new disguise - maybe ten times, maybe a hundred, as long as people will listen.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

Five common traits of good writers: (1) They have something to say. (2) They read widely and have done so since childhood. (3) They possess what Isaac Asimov calls a "capacity for clear thought," able to go from point to point in an orderly sequence, an A to Z approach. (4) They're geniuses at putting their emotions into words. (5) They possess an insatiable curiosity, constantly asking Why and How.” ― James J. Kilpatrick

“If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent, whatever that is. Who am I? What right have I to speak? Who will listen to me if I do? You’re a human being, with a unique story to tell, and you have every right. If you speak with passion, many of us will listen. We need stories to live, all of us. We live by story. Yours enlarges the circle.” ― Richard Rhodes

Source

How and Why Do Writers Improve?

“Dear Aspiring Writer, you are not ready. Stop. Put that finished story away and start another one. In a month, go back and look at the first story. RE-EDIT it. Then send it to a person you respect in the field who will be hard on you. Pray for many many many red marks. Fix them. Then put it away for two weeks. Work on something else. Finally, edit one last time. Now you are ready to sub your first work.

Criticism is hard to take at first. Trust me, I've been there. But learn to think of crit marks as a knife. Each one is designed to cut away the bad and leave a scar. Scars prove you've lived, learned and walked away a winner. Any writer who tells you they don't need edits is lying. I don't care if they have 100 books out. Edits make you grow and if you aren't growing as a writer, you are dead.” ― Inez Kelley

“Mostly, we authors must repeat ourselves - that's the truth. We have two or three great and moving experiences in our lives - experiences so great and moving that it doesn't seem at the time anyone else has been so caught up and so pounded and dazzled and astonished and beaten and broken and rescued and illuminated and rewarded and humbled in just that way ever before.

Then we learn our trade, well or less well, and we tell our two or three stories - each time in a new disguise - maybe ten times, maybe a hundred, as long as people will listen.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

“There's a difference between writing for a living and writing for life. If you write for a living, you make enormous compromises....If you write for life, you'll work hard; you'll do what's honest,
not what pays” ― Toni Morrison

“Critique my better work only, because I want to get better from my best, not better from my worst.” ― Jarod Kintz, $3.33

“Let grammar, punctuation, and spelling into your life! Even the most energetic and wonderful mess has to be turned into sentences.” ― Terry Pratchett



That's a lot of advice, experience and knowledge about words. Now, for this challenge, entertain me, educate me and enchant me with words.

© 2015 Marilyn L Davis

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    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Marilyn - I missed this challenge when you first sent it out. Great challenge it is. I will do my best to entertain you, educate you and enchant you with words. Thanks for the challenge.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 23 months ago from Long Island, NY

      Interesting hub. I run into articles where the author over uses words. They elaborate redundantly and add useless text for some unknown reason. The reasons you gave make sense. It seems to be a fear of some sort that they are not delivering. But the reverse occurs, they tend to lose the reader when they over do it with words.

      As you made clear, the proper use of words with the proper balance makes communication much more satisfactory.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good afternoon, Trish; don't just think about, write about it. (She smiles) Thanks for the comment.

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 2 years ago from The English Midlands

      Great hub. Definitely a lot to think about there.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good morning, Jo, I look forward to your take on the challenge. We all get lost in creating that we sometimes forget to view what others have done. I'm on a break reading and creating a site where writers can share what helps them hone their craft. May not be necessary; may be others out there, but it is the direction that I'm driven to pursue. Stay tuned....~Marilyn

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

      Jo_Goldsmith11 2 years ago

      Hello.

      Jodah sent me over to read this. After I read his contribution to your challenge. How did I miss noticing you before? Maybe it's because I have spent too much time writing the words and not enough time reading better words to help expand my mind the way a balloon is filled with air.

      Shared, up for all the reasons why I am so grateful to read this. I love challenges. So, I will enter one soon. Thank you so much for this needed lesson about words and how to be a better writer.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening, Sally; again, thank you for participating. The Hub made my day. ~Marilyn

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      MDavisatTIERS

      Glad you enjoyed a short trip down memory lane. I enjoyed writing the challenge, thank you very much.

      Sally.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good morning, Sally; just read your response and it was excellent. Thank you for participating and giving me a nostalgic memory of early childhood. ~Marilyn

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      MDavisatTIERS

      Better late than never Marilyn! I just published my response to your writing challenge.

      Spare-the-Child-from-the-Rod-and-teach-every-Child-to-Love-Words

      Best wishes,

      Sally.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      I read each part two or three times so that I made sure I took some of the stuff in enough to use what I learned

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good morning, Lawrence; thanks for the attention. I'm always curious if someone reads something multiple times - is it interest or wasn't I clear....both can happen.

      I hope you do take the challenge. There have been some excellent responses and I would imagine yours will fall into the same category. ~Marilyn

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Great advice here. I found myself reading each part two or three times. Might be a week or so before I do the challenge but watch out for it

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening, Patty; I adore Dr. Seuss and my grand kids will tell you that I wanted to read him long after they lost interest. A favorite, "“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”― Dr. Seuss

      It's for those tidbits that I keep reading him. Thanks for your comment. ~Marilyn

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 2 years ago from North America

      Your Summary reminds me of the Dr. Seuss quote: Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!" Thanks for the Hub.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening, newjerusalem; thank you for the compliment. I hope that you try the challenge. I'm so pleased with the results so far and would welcome another entry. ~Marilyn

    • newjerusalem profile image

      victor 2 years ago from India

      Another awesome blog. Indeed, writing is really a great challenge. I think a writer is basically a wordsmith -- he ought to know the skill of using the most appropriate words during the crafting work called writing. Good luck.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening, Shyron; what an interesting name. Get those commitments done - I know how they are, have a few of my own. When you have time, I'd welcome your response.

      Thanks for the heads up and I look forward to reading it soon. ~Marilyn

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago from Texas

      Wow! Marilyn, when I read pstraubie48's answer to your challenge, I had to read this article. I will be joining the other writers as soon as I finish-up prior commitments.

      Voted-up, UABI and shared.

      Blessings new friend.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening, Catherine; thank you so much for participating and I'm headed your way. Look forward to reading it. ~Marilyn

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Marilyn, I just did your challenge. I wrote "Words: Why English is the World's Greatest Language." I hope you like it. It took me about 10-12 hours to research and write it. Thank you for suggesting the topic. I learned a lot from your hub and from mine.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good morning, Kevin; I completely understand. Keep it on the back burner for now, and when there's time, pull it back out. Thanks for the comment. ~Marilyn

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      It is now appearing on my profile, Marylin, after a gap of 28 hours. I was worried why it is not there, even though people are commenting on it. They must have fixed the glitch now. The title is "Do you realize it- The Magic of Words". I am eagerly waiting for your feedback please. Thank you once again for your concern for me.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      I am also drawn to your challenge Marilyn but I, too, am under many updates, etc. I will keep it in mind.

      Kevin

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
      Author

      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good morning, dahoglund 1; thank you. Plain talk is powerful. Several writers, Lerner and Mark Twain make excellent arguments for writing as we speak - minus the word, very......Their lists of redundant words is interesting, also.

      I look forward to your response to the challenge. ~Marilyn

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good morning, Venkatachari M; what did you call it? I couldn't find one on words and definitely want to read it. Let me know. Thank you for participating. ~Marilyn

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      When I was young, I was self conscious about words and if I had the right word and such. I am more pragmatic now and look for the word tha works for me. Some of this is because of doing business writing. When I was in my teens, my brother gave me a copy of "The Art of Plain Talk." these influences taught me to look for short, direct statement. I try to write like people talk.

      I just ran across your challenge when I saw Billybuc's hub. I have to go back and read that and then I'll take a try at your challenge.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Marilyn, I have just published a hub as an attempt at your challenge. May like to know whether it meets some parameter of your challenge. Thanks in advance.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good afternoon, Ann; same to you, thanks. ~Marilyn

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good afternoon, Jodah; and I've read it and think it is great. I appreciate you participating. ~Marilyn

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Thanks again,Marilyn; have a great day!

      Ann

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Marilyn, I have finally completed my response to your challenge:

      It i called: "Words Can't Say Enough: The Need to Write"

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening, Ann; it is a wonderful piece. You've done a commendable job with this challenge and I'm honored that you participated. Thank you! ~Marilyn

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      I've just published my response to this challenge, called WORDS....

      It was a huge challenge; fiction is easier!!

      Ann

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good afternoon, Tricia; thanks for stopping by and commenting. We are all a combination as you point out. Thanks for validating that. ~Marilyn

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      Tricia Deed 2 years ago

      Very good article. Gained some insights with your words and words from other authors which you quoted. I guess I am a combination of writing for many reasons and hopefully earn a penny or two.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good morning, Venkatachari M; thank you for your kind words. That's the magic of them; we all have them at our disposal, yet you chose to use certain ones and in a particular order. You used ones I don't normally associate with my writing, so that is new. ~Marilyn

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Awesome and enchanting magic of words here. So many quotes on this word puzzles!!! I can't imagine collecting quotes like this. You enchanted me with all your wonderful tossing of these magical words. Thanks for sharing such a splendid work. Voted up and awesome.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening, Catherine; you are fortunate that words just come naturally to you. Some struggle with that. That ability to choose means you can have either plain or fancy depending. Thanks for your addition to the piece. ~Marilyn

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Words just come naturally to me. I always want just the right word, not just the meaning, but the connotations. I may write simply or fancifully depending on the topic and the tone I want to impart.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good morning, Ann; wherever we can keep the quotes that inspire us is a good idea. ~Marilyn

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Good idea to have a muse board! I haven't got room for one; small house, small desk! I do keep notes on the laptop though.

      Ann

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good Morning, Ann; many of these quotes are on my "Muse Board". Literally a bulletin board above my desk for those times that I'm struggling. The others, I did some research on because I wanted to understand what writers through the years thought about our only building blocks - words.

      Glad you've taken that deep breath and are going for the challenge. ~Marilyn

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Hi Marilyn! You have some wonderful examples here; such diversity in how people feel about writing and how they look at their and others' work. Great research.

      It's a good challenge because it makes us concentrate on the nitty-gritty. For me, it's more of a challenge than writing a story or poem, even though words have been my life and my career!

      So I'm taking a deep breath before I say, 'Ok, I'll have a go.'

      Ann

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening Bill; I enjoyed your challenges so thought I'd give it a shot. Glad you like it, and I hope you can find time. If not this month, then next. ~Marilyn

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh, Marilyn, this is right in my wheelhouse, but I'm buried in projects. I'll try but I make no promises. I hope others climb all over this one; it's a good challenge for sure.