Friday, September 25, 2009

The Power of Words (Part 2)

This series could also very rightly be called, Masters of the Craft. It's impossible to talk about the power of words without also referencing the masters of them.

William Shakespeare had a handle on words that few have ever equalled. Unfortunately, as time has gone on, many readers today do not fully appreciate his work. There are phrases that moved the story along that we just don't use today. For example, when have we ever mentioned our spleen when overcome with anger? And yet, this was a common word usage in Shakespeare's time. Just as we attribute the heart to certain feelings, other organs also had their place.

This shouldn't surprise us. Just within a short time (still in living memory), many words have been given different meanings and some just don't find their place in conversation anymore. When's the last time you said you were gay in order to indicate that you were happy? Or when have we thought, "what a queer little dog" when we see a household pet acting silly? The Post-Modern generation, for the most part, does not. Our grandparents and great-grandparents may still use those phrases from time to time, but those words are quickly adapting to new meanings.

Today, a spleen is a spleen, but in Shakespeare's time it was an organ of anger.

Now why did I spend so much time explaining that? Because a master, in just a few simple words, can portray so much. Which is better? Saying, "the act of the woman surprised and saddened him" or "his heart sank?" I hope that you understand the latter is better. It portrays so much more emotion and feeling. We can relate to a sinking heart. Whereas, the first description was rather flat and the reader would have to stop and think in order to relate to the character.

When describing emotion, think about where you feel it. You feel love, sadness, hurt, etc. in your heart, but your heart does different things for each of those emotions. A loving heart is light, a sad heart is heavy, and a hurt heart, well, hurts. There are other organs that are affected as well. Don't we feel guilt in our stomach?

These words and expressions are powerful because every single person has felt them and can relate to them. And that's the key. A writer and a reader must be able to understand each other. It's all about communication, and a master communicates his point, not only beautifully, but precisely.

The series will continue next Wednesday. In the meantime, Monday will be the start of Monday's Myths where I'll introduce a new mythological character and its origins every week.

Don't forget to check in!


1 comment:

  1. @Jaleh

    That kind of stuff just fascinates me. I'm constantly researching things to add into my books and short stories. I would love if you could share that with me.


    Haha! I know what you mean. I love Shakespeare. I happened to take some acting classes in college and one year we dealt with all things Shakespeare. You wouldn't believe the things we learned! For one, I was fascinated to find out that Shakespeare wrote in rhythm. During moments of anger or sadness, the dialogue actually became off-beat. For example, in order to accomplish this, he would write curs-ed when he wanted the extra beat. Absolutely amazing!


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