Thursday, April 7, 2016
Drowning In Words
I started reading a book and I really want to stop and I've been thinking about why.
I don't know the author, but I thought the premise looked interesting so I picked it up. The problem was apparent in the first chapter, though. Everything--and I mean everything--was overdescribed. The road, the sun, the clothing, the buildings, the inner thoughts, every single detail of anything in the scene was on the page. It was sort of like that show Hoarders where the person living in the chaos can totally point out to you that tiny gnome in the corner and the newspaper they bought on their 16th birthday amidst piles and piles of hoarded items. That's sort of how this book was. The awesome bits of dialogue and characterization were in there, but they were overwhelmed and difficult to find because they were surrounded by a word hoard.
Too many words.
I love words. And I love descriptions. It's been interesting to me to watch my preschooler discovering words. "Mommy, what does resign mean?" "What does d-a-y spell?" "I know what a "T" says." He's putting together sounds and words and an entirely new world is opening up to him. I love it. I love watching it. Being part of that, the person to help him navigate that new world is a privilege and reminds me of the wonder of words. (Although he did recently learn how to spell BUMS and goes around chanting it. A lot. In public. But it's cute from a little kid, right?)
He can't get enough of the world of words.
But I've been around words for a long time. I know they are powerful. They can be used in ways that can change lives, change minds, and change hearts. I still remember hurtful words said to me when I was a young girl. But I also remember words that made me laugh and words that made me think. The longer I live, however, the more I realize that words need to be used in a sparing manner, sometimes a more loving manner, especially when we're speaking to others or writing things with impact.
And they definitely need to be used after a lot of thought.
As a writer, I can ask myself, what does this word contribute to the scene? Is it too wordy already? Can I give it more impact with less words? As a person I can ask myself will these words uplift and help someone? Will I regret these words someday? Is this needful?
Looking at this book, I think that author might have had a unique story to tell, but it was lost in the words. Don't let the word hoard overwhelm your best words. Showcase your story with only the brightest and most needed words. Remind yourself of the wonder of words.
And then change the world.