Words, words, words

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  • Will Peebles

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William Peebles

I really like words. Words are the most basic form of communication. Words make up this column. Every bit of poetry and prose ever written are basically just words. Words are important, but words can’t do it alone.

OK. The paragraph above was excruciatingly boring and felt almost treasonous to write. But I did it for a reason. Look at the sentences. They’re dull. They’re all around the same length, have boring structure, and when read aloud they are almost painful to listen to.

Why does this happen? What makes those completely factual and topical words so monotonous? It has a lot to do with rhythm.

I can write a 10-syllable sentence. I can do it again and change topics. When rhythm is repetitive, words suck. You are so tired of reading these now.

So I’ll stop. I’ll change the rhythm. I’ll use a few short sentences. I’ll take my thoughts about what I’m writing and heap them into a huge sentence that builds, and crescendos, and somehow manages to make the voice in your head read louder and faster. See that? When the structure of sentences is varied, the writer creates a more interesting, constantly moving emotive rhythm. It’s like music.

It’s good to keep words fresh too. Many great words are combed over into obscurity because of the word “really.” In my constant battle to make my vocabulary interesting and colorful, “really” gives me the most trouble.

I’m really tired. I’m really angry with my professor, but I really like you.  Look at those lackluster expressions of emotion. Why not say: “I’m exhausted. I’m absolutely furious with my professor, but totally enamored by you!”

It all comes down to how much you care about what you put down on paper. Learn to enjoy words. There is a zero percent chance that you won’t have to write some sort of paper in college. So why not venture into the craft?