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When Words Awaken

Words have cadence. Their rhythm has order. When the right chord is struck, the sound of thought is created. It’s music, really. Letters strung together, spaces added, are the writer’s …

When Words Awaken ~ 

Words have cadence. Their rhythm has order. When the right chord is struck, the sound of thought is created. It's music, really. Letters strung together, spaces added, are the writer's musical notes tap-dancing in harmony. I love the sound of words. Even small, barely noticeable words like and, if, but, and that have a place. When the writer fits them together in proper sequence, they'll sing for the reader.

Finding The Rhythm

On one of my first drafts, you'll find lots of words out of place, but by the second or third revision, most are weeded out, and the ones that remain are then rearranged and paired until the sentence and paragraph flow in a brain-inspiring rhythm.

When the cadence works, words take on more meaning, often turning a previously mundane set of words into sentences that make your readers write to you.

Novel Excerpt

The scene that has drawn the biggest response from my readers is from my debut novel, Shadow of the Hawk, when sixteen-year-old Sooze Williams witnesses her baby sister's death:

     Mama carried Grace in her arms to the bed and sat down on the edge as Daddy struck a match to light the coal-oil lamp. Their shadows inside the room were eerie, as if they were somewhere between life and death. Maybe it was the dark before dawn, but it seemed I could almost see through them. Daddy moved in flickered steps while Mama's cry sounded miles away. As I watched, a smoky haze formed as if a gray veil had fallen over the room, but it didn't scare me none. I knew I was watching something extraordinary. I'd never been nearby when a baby died. Maybe it was different for them. A newborn can't have no sin, so maybe the angels are softer when they come to get them.

Revisions

This scene went through several rounds of draft revisions before it became what it is today. I knew it was "right" when I felt the movement inside me. I guess the readers felt it, too.

I find myself writing (and rewriting) pivotal scenes until the impact of the words are felt in my heart and soul. It's never right until it's right. 

All the time, I hear writers say, "I just keep writing the same scene over and over..." It's true. Many of us do, but it's because the maestro muse has faith in the writer. Keep tapping the keys until the song plays. I promise you, it will. 

“You should write stories because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page.” – Annie Proulx



 

Annie Proulx, maestro muse, word cadence, writing

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