Monday, July 20, 2015

Just the Right Word

And How Many of Them? 

The English language has its own rhythm, and most writers know how to take advantage of it.
Shakespeare, of course, is noted for his poetry, writing both stand-alone poems (mostly sonnets) and full plays made up of myriads of poetic forms. Even when characters within his plays speak in prose, there is a sense of rhythm to their phrases.

Ernest Hemmingway was noted for short, quick sentences all somehow managing to convey strong images in few words. William Faulkner, on the other hand wrote long, complex sentences to do the same job, admitting that he was glorifying the language.

Writing Using A Feather And Ink Clip ArtMost authors fall somewhere in between. To my mind, sentence length needs to vary, depending on the circumstances. When time needs to pass slowly, or a scene needs to unveil itself little by little, long sentences work fine. But when there is dramatic action going on, the sentences need to move along.

In The Saga of Magiskeep, one short sentence repeated a number of times in various places in the novel is full of significance.  It is the command Jamus speaks when Magic is at its most powerful. He says, "It is enough,"  three words as potent as any spell. It is his command to the River and to himself that he has taken control. They are words of mastery able to stop storms in their tracks, check Spellfire's devastation, and end the impact of a charm.

Clearly, in this instance, words have power.  But unlike many Magicians of fiction, Jamus and his fellow sorcerers do not need words to cast spells. The River answers a silent call--the Magician's Will. The stronger a sorcerer's Will, the stronger his power.

But word still have power in the novels. Prophecies are expressed in poetry, as are the dark intentions of the Black Dragon. Simen, Jamus' brother often sings poetic tales of old stories that often reveal significant truths.  And then, many of the riddles Jamus must solve to complete his journey on Turan's Way are cryptic poems.

In between, the prose seeks its own rhythm, and I'm never quite happy with certain words unless both their meaning and their sound suits the sentence. I tend to keep a Thesaurus on hand when I write so I can find a suitable "sounding" synonym for words that just don't fit the flow.

Image result for grammarlyHow many words? Hundreds, I suppose. According to the Grammarly program I use for basic proofreading, I used 1350 unique words last week during my writing.  That's quite a mouthful.

Speaking of word count, I am currently reporting the number of words I write in my current novel, The Fifth Dragon, in a Facebook writing challenge of sorts. We have a small group of writers who are trying to inspire each other to complete our latests works by keeping track of how many words we write each day.

I'll be a bit slow today. We had a power failure this morning and by the time I managed to get my generator running and later fuss around with my computer internet connection--including hooking up a new modem--I think I wore out much of my creative energy.

And then, I just spent over 500 perfectly useful words here.

Guess I'd better go and see how many more I can find to use in the book.

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