Behold an example of the power of words:
This sentence commands you to read it.
Once you read it, there’s no use denying it. You can’t get any sort of acknowledgment that you didn’t read it.
Words are mighty.
The writer is a creator, of sorts. Creating a brand new world. Perhaps, intending a better world. Or maybe a scarier world. But the author may also create a vision of the real world.
Through words, authors have the power to:
- evoke strong emotions from readers (crying, laughter, pity).
- make people read fast (suspenseful page turner).
- provoke action (letters to Congress, a call to arms, buy a DVD that’s on sale).
- teach (textbooks, how-to guides, training manuals).
- report news (headlines, articles, research).
- create ideals (socialism, non-violence, freedom).
- entertain (fiction, puzzles, cookbooks).
- inspire (biography, motivational, children’s social situations).
- provide leadership (by example, through characters in stories).
- record history (textbooks, biographies, memoirs).
- and much, much more can come just by stringing words together in the right fashion.
Just like Peter Parker, writers have a great responsibility with this power. 🙂 (I’ll just let you think about this, and spare you a lecture on it.)
But we know from everyday experience that it’s not just the words that matter:
In person, it’s often not what you say, but how you say it.
Facial expressions, gestures, tone, and context influence interpretation. This is a challenge for the author.
Well, we can add a few features, if we want. But the same effect can often be conveyed just as effectively, if not more so, with ‘naked’ words.
A sentence printed on a sheet of paper can be interpreted many ways. It can be read with different tones, stress can be placed on different syllables, and accents can vary.
When the same sentence is said aloud a certain way, this aids with interpretation.
Authors can leave expressions open to interpretation, or they can use additional words to help elicit a particular emotion, or they can allow context to help. They can tell the reader, or they can use words to show the reader.
They can add utterly useless words. Yet each and every word serves a purpose.
They can create new phrases. Yet even trite expressions can be used effectively.
A painting may be worth a thousand words. But the writer is an artist, too, and can paint a vivid picture just using words.
You can eat without them. You can sleep without them. You can find shelter without them. You can find comfort without them. You can make friends without them. You can reproduce without them.
If we had to, we could live without words. But could you imagine such a life?
Once you learn to read, words affect you the rest of your life. If you see a sign, you must make a concerted effort not to read it. Words have such power over us. They influence our emotions, our actions.
And we use them. They give us power.
Imagine trying to do everything you’ve done in your life without them.
Go an entire day without words. Don’t say one. Don’t write one. Don’t hear one. Don’t even think one. Good luck with that. 🙂
Words. Some silly. Some simple. Some pulchritudinous. Some serious. Some not. Some visual. Some abstract.
For writing to have influence, it has to be read. So authors use words in their marketing, too. To help others find writing that may interest them.
Love words. Read words. Enjoy words. Write words. Appreciate words. Learn words. Teach words. Respect words.
Words are mightier than the sword.
Words are more powerful than money.
Words can be used to form friendships.
Words can be used to ease tensions.
Words can incite rebellion.
Words can bring peace.
What can’t words do?
If you can experience it, you can express it with words.
Even if it can’t be done in reality, it can be done in words.
We live in a world that revolves around words.
Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers