Advice from Authors

Anne MacLeod

Words are sounds - sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly sometimes soft or sometimes granite-hard by which we share ideas and feelings. With words we can build stories, imagined lives: or poems which, in a few lines, can hold the world in focus, time at bay.

Think about the word ugly. Does it sound beautiful? What feeling does the sound ugg-lee conjure in us? And think about words like swerve, or pluck or feather they hold in their word-shape a sense of their meaning. Can you think of more to add to that list?

When you have written the first draft of a story or poem, look at the words and see if they are working hard enough. Combine meaning and feeling, or sound and movement, as above. Don't over-do it, though. Don't make things fancy just for the sake of it.

Remember that adverbs weaken verbs and adjectives do not always add to the meaning of nouns.

Putting worlds into words is one of the best games ever. It never gets boring. Writing is one of the ways in which we examine life: we find the world shimmering, changing shape even as we look at it. Words can hold that shape, or transform it in a single breath.

Words really are magic.

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