The Power of Words

20 11 2011

“And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.”

In his excellent book, Stein On Writing, Sol Stein writes about his early training as a writer while a high school student in the Bronx during the 1940’s.  One effective teacher taught Stein and his classmates about the power of words by reading “our stories to us in a monotone as if he were reading from the pages of a phone directory.  What we learned with each stab of pain was that the words themselves and not the inflection supplied by the reader had to carry the emotion of the story.”

Words have intrinsic power.  One of the things J.R.R. Tolkien believed and incorporated into his work was the belief that words have power.  That words and their sound when spoken should and do embody what they signify.  Catholics have long believed that to speak the name of a saint, say Francis of Assisi, was to summon their presence.  Christians know the power of speaking the name of Jesus.  Think of the power of these words when spoken:

“I love you.”

“This is My body which is broken for you.”

“You’ll never amount to anything.”

“You’re going to live.”

“The best is yet to come.”

Here is a challenge to us as writers and speakers.  How can we be more fresh and stimulating with our choice of words?  Do we take the easy path of cliché rather than doing the hard work of a finding a rare and poetic expression?  And do we use this almost magical power of words to create life, success, happiness and hope rather than the blackness of despair and discouragement?  All embodied in what we say….




2 responses

21 11 2011
Writing Jobs

Great post thanks. I really enjoyed it very much.

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21 11 2011
Christian Fahey

Hmm….will check into it. Thank you!!

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