Words are important to writers and every writer should like words. In fact, a writer should have an obsession with words, if not a down right romance. Words are our tools. We can’t tell stories without words.
Well, actually you can tell a story without words. Music can tell a story without words. Composers do it all the time to enhance television and movies. And you can express meaning by just a look or a gesture. (After all, what good would our middle fingers be if there were no meaning to that gesture.) And you can tell stories through hand signals and grunts.
An example of that last statement: Long ago when one of my nephews was about two and half years old, he still hadn’t figured out words quiet yet but when he was visiting my parents on their farm one day and a plane flew over, sowing rice, after he watched it, I asked him about it. He made up and down motions with his hands while grunting to indicate the sounds of the plane. His gestures and grunts were so precise that I understood his story immediately. I saw the gracefulness of the plane in his hand motions and heard the growl of the plane’s engine in his grunts.
Now he’s grown man and talks fine. No, he’s not a motor-mouth. He’s not a spare one with words either. He’s just careful of what he says.
Yet, how could I tell that story without words just now? Well, if I had the images, I could do it that way, but only if I had the right images. Just like I have to have the right words.
The beauty of words is that you can edit them, correcting them to make your story stronger, or eliminating them if they’re not needed, keeping the story strong.
Think of words like the keys of a piano or the paints an artist uses. And you can also think of words like the costumes and makeup used in movies. Or the steps a dancer utilizes. Or you can think of them like a warm drink on a cold night.
Words can comfort. They can create excitement, joy, anger, sorrow. And they can create hate. Some words, simple though they may be, used often enough can create emptiness instead of meaning.
Think of the word “fuck”, for example. This is an anger word, a hate word. It’s a “sex without love” word. And yet, nowadays, it’s more common that any other word. You hear it and even read it every. “Fuck You” more common than “I love you.”
Instead of saying “my bad” or “excuse me” or even “Oh, shit!” you hear people say “Fuck me”, as if that’s better. People think it makes them sound cool or tough, of even strong. But whenever you use that word instead of a better word, it just shows how weak and limited your words are and your thinking is.
And what about political correctness? It’s considered wrong to say, “Oh, god” or “For god’s sake.” So instead, people say, “Oh, fuck” and even worse yet, “for fuck’s sake.”
What does that even mean? Is fuck the new god? Does it mean for sex’s sake or hate’s sake or for anger’s sake? People walking around thinking “fuck” all the time and using it all the time are mentally dumbing themselves. They keep themselves in a state of heightened anger and aggression.
When people yell at me “fuck you” as they drive by or perform a dangerous move while I’m driving (yes, sometimes it’s might fault) I yell back “You’re not my type.” Which often makes them even angrier. You don’t have to swear to piss someone off.
My whole point is that words are important and some words shouldn’t be used, or at least used sparingly, when other words can be used that are better words. It’s not only a sign of weakness to write or say or think such words all the time, it also promotes us stupid. It makes us crude and rude and unworthy.
Would you say to the love of your life, “come fuck me,” ? There might be a promise of very dirty and hard sex in there, but what about love? What about companionship? If it’s the only way someone knows how to express love, well, okay. But anyone can learn better ways. And that starts with better words.
Lately, in the news, I keep hearing the word “xenophobe” used when talking about Donald Trump. The people who refer to him that way want the general public to think Trump hates people of other countries and different ethnicity. But that word just means you’re afraid of people from other countries. In Science Fiction, it means you’re afraid of people from other worlds. (Same difference.)
Xeno comes Ancient Greek and means foreigner or stranger. Phobe also come from Ancient Greek and means fear. It can mean either a fear of strangers or a hatred of strangers.
So, these political pundits are trying to make people fear and hate Trump, because he’s strange and different. That’s ironic. (As a writer, I love irony. If you don’t know what that word means, look it up. Good writers should keep a dictionary close at hand at all times.)
So, what does this all mean? It means these pundits who are afraid of Trump are trying to make people into xenophobes by claiming that Trump is a xenophobe. That’s the irony here! They’re so afraid of him that they want everyone else to be afraid of him, too.
So, words. What so important to writers about words? Everything. You don’t want to write the wrong word and give people the wrong impression that you’re rude, crude, or stupid.
When I do find a word that I don’t know, I exam it to see if it’s one worth knowing. And, most words are. Be careful of what you write. Be careful of the words you use.
And as E.T. says, “Be good.”
(Sorry, I’m just a movie geek.)
Have fun storming the castle!