Using Words: The Writer's Resource; How I Value & Use Words to Create a piece of Writing: Response to a Challenge
Meaning of Words
We have another challenge at hubpages and I can’t resist! Marilyn aka mdavisattiers has asked us to consider ‘Words’ in her hub: http://mdavisattiers.hubpages.com/hub/Have-YOU-Said-It-A-Writing-Challenge
“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.”
Here is my response.
Words & the Wordsmith
I am a writer, a wordsmith, a seamstress of syllables. I am a journeyman through time, an archivist and a devil’s advocate. I lead you to places unknown, unlock your senses and feed your thirst for adventure.
Back in Time
Baubles, Foliage & DungeonsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Weave a Fabric
To succeed in entertaining, informing, educating or enchanting, I need to weave the fabric of a story, sew the seams of an illustrative cloth or link a jigsaw of words to reveal the pattern, all in such a way that the reader is not only involved but absorbed.
So I rummage through the library of vocabulary in my brain or, when I need help, a thesaurus. I choose the brightest baubles, the most fecund foliage, the darkest dungeons and I make them slaves to my whim.
I want to attain the highest standard possible, to be satisfied I’ve offered my best. Readers expect to be entertained, informed, educated or enchanted and they deserve respect. Writers, in turn, earn respect by delivering only the cream of their work. Nothing less will do.
Quality & Appeal
As when buying clothes I expect to have value for money, quality material and a good fit, so must I craft my words to please the eye, appeal to the soul, flatter the intellect and even satisfy present fashion.
Fashion, though, demands a certain style and that can be dangerous for a writer. We have our own styles, our own voice and we should stick to what works for us, what distinguishes us from the rest. Our fashion of writing, our voice, should stand the ravages of time. I can slant my subjects to appease fashion but I won’t sacrifice my voice.
Power & Nuance
Words are power. They are magical, rich in meaning, manipulative, persuasive and emotive. The magic spins your imagination and flings you into another world. The richness can take your breath away, give you phrases to delight or to disgust.
Nuances in meaning stir the brain into machinations never before experienced. Your mind can be controlled, send you to places you don’t want to go, make your skin crawl, your heart beat and your tears flow. Then the words pull back the pendulum to lift your spirits, make you smile and put a twinkle in your eye.
All this I must try to do if my writing is to be valued, enjoyed and, above all, if it is to last longer than the time taken to read it.
Wrap your Story in.....Click thumbnail to view full-size
Traps & Tapestries
So I must choose precise, pertinent, powerful words. I must avoid clichés to create new images and feelings with which my reader can identify.
Then I need to fabricate the cloth my words will be wrapped in, lie upon, unfold from. I must avoid dull designs, old-fashioned styles and threadbare material.
I can weave a dense tapestry, where buried gems lie waiting to be teased out, where warmth will soothe or weight will drag the spirits. I might make a web of silk to cover traps, to cloak dark characters or to soften the edges of faces or ease woes. Perhaps I’ll create a hard tarpaulin under which the reader can peek from each corner wondering what might jump out at him or what gruesome details hide just under its surface.
When I’ve chosen my words and dressed them, I have my image to place before the world. I want it to be something fresh, presented in a well-crafted style, whether to startle, to amuse or to make hearts ache; then I have a good chance of success.
Having chosen my exquisite words and fabric, I turn to producing the final product.
In my first draft I’ll put ideas to paper; I have a horror of forgetting thoughts or particular phrases so I just throw them on the page and breathe a sigh of relief. Now the fabric is loosely woven; it needs tightening up to leave no snagged threads.
Work the Words for Maximum Effect
To achieve that, I work the words to be economical but retain effect. This isn’t easy. Verbosity wearies the reader so each word must have a job or it shouldn’t be there. My vocabulary needs to impact on the reader, be surprising, create a clear image of my exact intention. If it doesn’t, I re-write.
Each syllable must lend itself to the whole, be conducive to thought, incite mood and emotion. I want my writing to appeal to the senses, make them tingle! I wish to be interesting, to convey my thoughts as though I’m face to face with my reader.
Next, a crucial phase of a written product, is proof-reading. I don’t do that immediately because I’m in danger of reading what I expect to see, the words I still have whizzing around my brain.
I do check for any glaring spelling or grammar mistakes straight away but then I’ll leave it, go for a walk, do the washing up, read something else, anything to clear my head of that last rush of typing and the relief of finishing.
It will demand my attention a few hours later, then the next day; if I’m still not happy with it, I might leave it for a week. It’s amazing how a fresh mind picks up all sorts of errors, brings a clearer turn of phrase or is critical enough to rewrite a whole paragraph or even scratch it.
Occasionally, I'll show my work to someone I can trust to give me honest feedback. It's so easy to miss the obvious and a totally different opinion can help me see any weaknesses.
Illustrations & Background
Finally, I might add photos, relevant quotes or snippets of information. Photos or other illustrations add credence and vital visual information to support an article about a place, event, nature or wildlife.
Background history can add depth and context; appropriate links provide further information. I must also remember to attribute any other work I’ve cited or researched.
What shall I write about today?Click thumbnail to view full-size
Variety of Subjects
I might write about literacy, often to help dyslexics. Then my piece has to be informative, educationally useful and accurate, as well as up-beat and encouraging.
My short stories or poems might be written to an historical background, they might be intended to amuse, maybe to scare or horrify, perhaps to delight or gently sadden.
I call upon my knowledge of the English countryside, my childhood and my travels to provide a varied base for articles. Local or traditional events inspire interest. Nature both at home and abroad can delight.
Sometimes affected by current affairs or certain behaviour, I can be tempted to work through my thoughts and possible solutions in presenting, I hope, an informed text on the subject. The more serious pieces are few and far between; they can be exhausting but cleansing too. The danger is to become too involved, too emotional and therefore lose a balanced argument and overview. In such cases, fair representation is a discipline the writer must uphold.
My last category is personal; I write a diary for each of my grandchildren so that later they can read about snapshots of their younger lives interwoven with anecdotes from mine.
Development & Voice
From a young age, I’ve enjoyed writing. HubPages has done me good; my style and my voice has developed. I’ve learnt much from other hubbers, notably Bill Holland (billybuc) and Chris Mills (cam8510) and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
I love words. Hardly a day goes by that I’m not either writing or mulling over words in my head. My observation of life, of people and their actions, of the world around me, has increased as I look constantly for unique angles on any subject under our life-giving golden orb.
Short words, long words, root words and song words; all are a writer’s resource, a writer’s tools, with which we create an intricate tapestry of rich delight or a plain cloth to cover or to expose the truth.
I hope to stretch those tools to their extreme, to continue to improve, to entertain, to inform and to help. Words remain long after we are gone, a valuable legacy to our descendants, an invaluable account of life as we see it and live it. I want to contribute to that legacy. My grandchildren will read my words; I hope their grandchildren, and others, will do the same.