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Write Stories, Not Words

Richard Cook

Words don't beat at the heart of your story. Look closer and you'll find something far more substantive.

Not all things have words.

If you think hard enough about it (highly recommended), words are just dumb little grunt noises the cleverest monkeys of their era made up. Each guttural heave was a reference sound tethered to a specific action, emotion or thing.

Or to put it another way, tethered to a specific verb, adjective or noun.

Today, it's backward. With the right words, you get away with murder — even if you didn't to tether them to something that actually exists (see: Trump, Donald).

With the wrong words, your name gets publicly executed while people don't even notice millions of dollars you put in the pockets of charities to help actual, human children (see: James, Lebron).

I work with words all day every day. In fact, so do you. That’s the human experience: making sense of words.

Why is it, then, that I considered writers and you (probably) are not?

Because writers are the ones who’ve realized words don’t mean squat — but they can, however represent things that occasionally do mean squat. They’re the ones who long ago realized stories aren't made of words the same way words aren't made of ink.

Storytelling (or “art” is the word we prefer) is the act of filling a bucket (or “canvas” is the word we prefer) with emotions that, when drunk from, are capable of producing profound discoveries inside those who sip.

Regardless of how many examples there are that words don't matter, that language isn't made of sound, some writers hang onto the idea that our talents lies in the rearrangement of words and that our end product is language.

Unfortunately for them, they'll end up being correct.


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