Friday, 24 July 2015

Holster that pen... you scoundrel.

Write as you speak? It's what they said. They quoted so much garbled text, your mind quickly acquiesced. You knew no better. You obeyed.

Use short sentences, they uttered. Long sentences are a no-no, they said. And speak so a two year old can comprehend your dribble, they slyly added, as you fell in step. You looked at their many acolytes on Twitter, internet jet-set, and you dared not use that excellent word you'd saved to spread.

90% of communication, it is posited, is non-verbal. That is, it is not said. If you actually write as you speak, no one will understand a word that your heart's depths truly said. You can use emoticons all you want in a lover's text. Professional writing, however, should carry its own mood, and through nuance, and word choice, subtly show your truth.

Perhaps an example would convince you instead?

"The hunter and his acolyte crouched in ambush. Before them, the corpse-to-be, a young woman, casually walked. She floated joyously upon the road, as she softly strolled home in a yellow and black polka-dot dress. There'd be red polka-dots, below her throat, and upon her chest. A fashion crime she'd die with, the hunter and his acolyte both later said. Her shadow stretched, fleeing her form, as she walked naively to her killers, who meted out her death."

Or shall I write that as some-of-you'd no doubt speak?

"This guy, so, like, he and his pal, they are like serial killers, dude, and like, like, they attacked a woman, and killed her by the woods. Eish man, Yslike. Life is too short, man. You know what I'm saying?"

To be honest, I don't. You have communicated just ten percent of it, if that, and without enough information, most people will not feel too overly moved.

The pen might be mightier than the sword, but not in the hands of those who'd typically resort to a bullet or a blade. Good writing is learnt, an art lies in great literary words. Upon the page, with black and white, you can pen a watercolour, or the iciest snows.

Yes, I have used more words than these online language gurus have, but the words created such an image in your mind that you could swear you were there. You felt close to the victim. You feared for her life, your heart as heavy with dread, though you were not that poor innocent she. You perhaps felt vomit creeping up your throat, and sensed it, as she lost eternal control of hers.

Short sentences? A staccato effect. They have a place.

Better, though, is to gauge each word you write. Consider the image it paints, how words can cause an emotional and intellectual effect. Big words like acolyte, or thunderbolt, can be dynamite upon the page, if the context is correct. The studies where people thought users of big words were stupid had a nuance to them. The larger words were used where smaller words were good for the running. They added nothing to the sentences, no rhyme, no rhythm, no empty things hidden.

Short sentences, used for suspense, are good. Overuse, has another effect. Our working memories are only so big. That is why shorter sentences, and simpler words, these days, are so big. Reference, and another big word, allusion, however, turn a single word into an entire library of books. They, and the odd adjective, not only convey emotion, they make you feel it just the same. The mightiest pen convinces, as a killer's blood-soaked-murderous-blade never could. The difference between an amateur and a writer lies in how they choose to write. Sentences come naturally to a writer, through the shear volume of their extensive written work. Practice sometimes perfects, it can be said.

The next time you write a text, tweet, or something indiscreet, try to write without emoticons or slang. Attempt a game where you never use the same word twice. Paint a picture with your use of phrase. With practice, and a handy pocket dictionary, your future writing might cause some surprise, hopefully of the best kind... prayerfully that, and not something utmost worse - a study in wrong use of words, those sacred, sometimes ill-gotten, things.

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Marc Evan Aupiais

Marc Evan Aupiais

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