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The Power of Words

Words and feelings are at the heart of every story. They're the medium, and the message.

And in many ways they're at the heart of life as well. The words we use embody our feelings, the words we hear shape our feelings, which in turn shape our actions. On a more intellectual level, the questions we ask shape the answers we seek, and the answers we accept and act upon.

There are weighty examples--a friend's post about the consequences of using inappropriate words in anger led me to write something I wanted to share with my writerly friends:

Sometimes the literal truth doesn't embody the feelings you have in the moment; storytellers legitimately resort to metaphor and hyperbole all the time. And many of us geeks learned nearly all we know about human relations from reading stories, and don't realize that many of the verbal techniques that make a story riveting do so because they inherently increase conflict. It takes time to train your reflexes that using hyperbole in a relationship crisis is like doing surgery with a chainsaw. And it takes even more time to learn other ways to express your emotions while sticking to saying things that are only literally true.

But there are less earth-shattering examples too. For instance, as I sit here, sweating in the summer heat and writing this, there is an ice-cream truck in the street under my window. In the ways of ice-cream trucks, it is playing music, mindlessly and repetitively.

However, this time it strikes me differently, because this time I know the words of the tune--and the tune is La Cucaracha.

And I have to say, I've never been less tempted to run out with money in my hand to buy an ice cream treat.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 1st, 2010 10:51 pm (UTC)
OMG. I'd have to run out and peek in the truck. That's so funny.

And what you're saying about writers, words and real life is so true.
Aug. 2nd, 2010 12:10 am (UTC)
The power of words
That is so hilarious! I've never heard an ice cream truck play that tune. Down here they play "Turkey in the Straw," which seems kind of stereotypically appropriate for Arkansas...

Liz Toll
Aug. 2nd, 2010 04:37 am (UTC)
Words on the page are also 'heard' differently to how words are spoken and I find sometimes that saying something the way you would type it can come off too strong, if someone is accustomed to mostly writing (ie--email, stories, blogs).

Food for thought about communication, thank you.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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