If you’re a writer, you no doubt love to play with words. Words are the basic building blocks we work with to make our prose fly. And, one wild word may turn a pedestrian sentence or paragraph into one that dances the tango all over your reader’s imagination.
Screenwriter and producer Joss Whedon recently spoke at the event “Make Equality Reality” about his hate-on for the word “feminist.” He says that part of being a writer is living inside the smallest part of every word…the sounds, the syllables, the meaning…as if you’re intoxicated with the word.
Watch his hilarious take-down of the word “feminist.” Whether you agree with him or not, it’s the word that counts in the end. Always the word.
Writing a poem or a paragraph is like solving a puzzle. I seek the perfect word not just for its meaning but also for sound and rhythm. In the process, I stumble upon other words that draw my attention and, before I know it, I’m off on an adventure. Words are like gems, sparkly and seductive in their power.
Priscilla Long, in her book, The Writer’s Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life, says she knows writers who have worked hard for years that do “pretty good work” but have never made the transition to great writing. The reason? Often, these writers—though hard workers—approach language passively. They only use words they grew up with or use in everyday language. Long doesn’t mean that we should suddenly spout elongated Latinate words but that we should become word gatherers, seeking out words that call to us with their sound, texture, rhythm, or meaning. Read more