Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Power of the pen

In my episode of the blog saga today, Sam finds out how much power a pen can have. We sometimes forget the power of the written word. Writing is both easier and more difficult with technology. Certain things require less thought (like spelling) and because the writer doesn't have to manually look up the word, I think they are less careful about word choice. I have a book called The Synonym Finder by J.I.Rodale. It's a hardback book, six by ten inches and a smidgen over two inches thick. The print is not big so it contains a lot of words. Whatever word you need can be found somewhere in the 1361 pages.

Sometimes I spend considerable time hunting for that particular, exactly right word. I'm kind of picky about words. Words are powerful. They convey shades of meaning. For instance, take the word pill.

Other words for pill--tablet, capsule, pellet, pastille, troche, lozenge, drop, medicine, remedy, cure, drug, medicine... among others. Each of the words conveys slightly different information about a pill.

Or how about red? Crimson, cardinal, carmine, rubescent, claret, scarlet, ruby, vermilion, russet, cherry, maroon, auburn, coral, beet, rose, rusty, brick--and you thought it was just red.

In our rush through life, we don't take time to savor the words, to enjoy the choices the writer has made. That's too bad because more and more writers are "writing down" to their readers. Readers want a light little book to zip through on the subway or in the airport. If it's too much work, then they conveniently leave it behind and go to the next book, devouring them like so many locusts.

A friend of mine is writing a book. She feels that it is too serious. As though everything must be entertaining. We--the reading public--we might not read it because it dares to look at life without making a joke of it. How sad. Are we really that shallow?

The next time you read a book, pay particular attention to the words. Are they all words that your third grader could read? Are the characters one dimensional? Is the dialogue mostly Dick and Jane? I swear I read a book not long ago that was like that. I kept checking the cover to see if there had been a mistake in packaging.

Find a nice thick book and savor it. Take time to enjoy the descriptions, the dialogue, the characters. Take time to enjoy the power of the words.


Amarinda left us in quite a pickle in the last episode...

With nimble grace the commander pointed his laser umbrella at each victim and dispersed of them in a quick open and shut motion before any of them realized what was happening. “All dead sire. Shall I send in the trolls to clean up?”

Hmm, the trolls. They were quick at cleaning up the dead but their giggles were so annoying. “Yes, but tell them the first one that giggles gets strung up by their nose hair.” That would teach those rodent-like creature to grow it long.

But not everyone was dead. One hardy soul still remained alive trying not to breathe for fear of instant death.“I will live through this and get my revenge,” vowed the survivor.

And now...

While the commander summoned the trolls to clean up, Beaky herded Emmeline and Sam out of the room ahead of him. "What do you think your doing?" She demanded angrily. "You can't just kill people!"

"Actually, I can." Beaky snorted and prodded her in the center of her golden quills. "If you give me too much trouble, you're next."

Sam shrugged. "Hey lady, maybe he has a reason."

"A reason?" Emmeline's voice shot up to a shriek. "What possible reason?"

Beaky poked her again. "Your show has been canceled Miss High and Mighty Warrior Woman. People ain't watching anymore. The Galaxy Network is running Bobbie Jo's Flying Boobies instead."

"They're running a show about flying tits?" Sam asked in confusion.

"No, boobies. Say, where are you from, anyway?"

"Earth?" he replied tentatively.

"Don't you know?"

"Well, sure I know. I'm just confused about what's going on." When Sam waved the pen at Beaky he was stunned when Beaky ducked and jumped behind a chair.

"What are you trying to do?" Beaky bellowed. "Kill us all?"

A faint glimmering of an idea dawned. Sam took out his notebook and clicked the pen. Time stood still as everyone around him held their breath. "If you don't give me the purple box and that umbrella," he said deliberately, "then I will cross you out in my notebook. And you know what that means…"

"No!" Emmeline shoved the purple box toward him. "Anything but that! Take it."

The commander hastily handed over the umbrella. "Sir!"

In a flash of purple smoke Sam was gone…

What will Kelly do? Check out her blog at www.kkirch.blogspot.com and of course then you'll need to hop over to find out what Amarinda is up to at www.amarindajones.blogspot.com


  1. Kelly doesn't know what Kelly will do yet. Though I almost wrote my blog about the power of the written word today. Great minds...

    I love my thesaurus. Mine is no where near as detailed as your's sounds. Might have to go buy another. Gee, darn.

  2. I have three copies of The Synonym Finder. It's out of print now, but Borders was able to special order it for me. I couldn't write without it.

  3. I, too, love my thesaurus. And a couple of my fav 'thick books' are Gone With the Wind, Hawaii, Centennial, Winds of War, and War and Remembrance. Oh yes...how could I forget the 'North and South' series? All 3...and all of Barbara Tayler Bradfords...

  4. I like to make words up and drive my editors insane.