The Power of Words

January 28, 2014
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I believe in the power of a good story and the right words. As a writer, I am always thinking about the best and most interesting way to tell a tale, and it is always my goal to convey something that will stick with the reader for a long time. When you write something that can elicit emotions and make your reader somehow connect with the people and story you created, I think you have done your job as a writer.

A couple years ago, in seventh grade, I wrote what I considered to be my first “powerful” short story. It was an assignment for English class, and it was about a mutilated soldier returning home from war and wondering how her family would respond to her injuries. I didn’t even take into consideration the fact that it could be a powerful story until I was doing edits with my teacher and saw her reaction to my words.

“This is wonderful, Sarina,” she said, and I could hear something like awe in her voice, although it was not exactly awe itself.

Later I read it over by myself and realized that I had penned a pretty convincing narrative, yet I don’t think I grasped just how influential it was until my grandpa read it.

I distinctly remember being in my grandparents’ basement with my cousins when my mother came down and instructed me to follow her back upstairs. She wouldn’t tell me what she wanted with me no matter how many times I asked, and I recollect trying the whole way up the stairs to conjure up some idea of what it could be. I had been utterly unremarkable that day, and I was at a total loss until I entered the sunroom and saw my grandpa sitting in his chair, my story in his hands. His face was red from crying, his hands were shaking slightly, and tears were streaking down his face.

My grandpa, a Vietnam veteran, cried when he read my short story and told me he loved it. That was the moment I truly realized just how powerful of a tale I had written. If it could make a war veteran – and also one of the toughest men I know – cry, I thought, I must have done a pretty good job of making it convincing.

I remember reading it again after that, but this time I was looking at it like it wasn’t my own work, which means I wasn’t being critical or scouring it for mistakes; I was simply reading it.

When a writer gets an idea in their head, one of the first things they think is: How can I use this to make an impact on my readers? Creating the most loveable characters and interesting plotline is significant and vital, but the words used are arguably what makes your writing memorable. Words and the yarn they spin are what make your story emotional, memorable, and powerful, and that combination can leave its mark on the reader for a lifetime.

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