…I was spellbound. There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around you like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.
I read these few sentences in a novel recently and was captivated. This is exactly what an author seeks to achieve: to create a collection of words that speak louder than any other collection of words.In this case, the character was speaking about the written words of another character – a novelist. So it was a double whammy really: the words of this fictional author described by the words of the character and her reactions to those words.
Some words are informative, some are instructional, others educational. All words are important and shouldn’t be wasted, but words that are emotive are the most valuable. Emotions are what drive us mere humans. If an author can put together a collection of words that draws the reader into the story to the exclusion of all else, a wonderful thing has happened.
Who are your favourite authors and why?Is it the story line, the characters, or the setting?
Have you ever thought about it enough to know the answers?Could it be the way the words are manipulated that appeals to you the most?
Do those words, so carefully crafted by the author, make you laugh or cry, get the adrenalin pumping or carry you away to another time and place?For me it is being carried away to another place that matters. I like to ‘live’ in the characters skin for a while, see what ‘she’ sees (and it is usually a she for me), feel what she feels and taste what she can taste. If I can’t find ‘my place’ within the author’s words I don’t follow that path and leave it for someone else to find their place within those words. For me empathy is the most important aspect.
The best authors achieve empathy with many readers because their voice sounds real, something the reader can share in and understand. There are those who write for women and those who target men. Some books cross the genders, but not always and, for me, not often. There are few books that cross the age range. Yet there are classics one remembers reading as a child that you carry with you for the rest of your life. Do you ever read them again? Or are you scared that with adult eyes you may shatter the memory you have?Whatever you feel and think about the books you read, remember it is the author who has spent hours, months and sometimes years crafting that collection of words that reached out and hit you right where you wanted it to at the time.
So next time you meet an author, say thank you. They gave you the gift of words.