July 21st, 2009

book and glasses

Words and emotion

jaylake has posted this link on his Link Salad blog post today, and I found myself riveted by it.

How much it all matters - right down to this level - to the way words sound! How much hides in a name, sometimes, which makes our visceral reptile brains, inasmuch as those can respond to language at all, react with hatred because of the arrangement of syllables in that name, and never progress to actually giving the person who bears the name a chance!

How much the choice of words governs what type or genre of story the tale a writer is creating winds up to be! It is easy to use the visual to convey a mood or a place - but words are often offered far less faith in their ability to do the same. And yet some writers can use words like scalpels, picking precisely the right one to lay a reader's emotional response open as though with a dissecting knife, letting air in to old wounds and making them ache all over again, making new wounds which never get a chance to heal or get old. Words are weapons, make no mistake about that. Nothing holds a sharper edge than a well-honed word. *Nothing*.

There are words that lull you before other words strike. There are words that will gently rock you to sleep, and words that will shock you awake. There are words that lie, and words that cannot convey anything except bare, stark, unvarnished truth.

And these are the things that writers juggle every day.

I'm sure all of us who wrangle words for a living bear scars from it. Somewhere.