I’ll be honest with you. I-am-cranky. There. I’ve said it.
And now I don’t even know what words are going to end up in this sentence because my fingers are just banging away without me even thinking, without me even caring about what comes out of this cranky mind of mine.
In the spirit of maintaining some of the glass half fullness that I believe to be a more accurate representation of me, I thought I might take this opportunity to gather in my little nerdy corner and make the most of this mood. To close my eyes. To breathe. To think all the lovely nerdy thoughts. And to have a little nerdy party.
You guys wanna come? We could hang out in the corner for a while, have a little chat about how language and tone indicate mood in a piece of writing? More specifically, we could analyse some little pieces of cranky me above, and try to dissect and plump up some of my cranky, writerly ways? (Omg. Fun, huh?)
Yes! Let’s DO this!
I suppose there were a few indications at the start of this little post of mine that may have given cranky me away.
Readers (ahem, humans) are creatures of habit, tradition, and pattern
In my experience, the sentence I’ll be honest with you often leads to something negative. So, even though the words themselves might seem kind of innocent—depending on the context in which they are being used—in this case, we all knew what I was really saying. (Hint.I am cranky!)
Example: ‘Omg, Brooke. I’ll be honest with you. These nerdy parties of yours are such mega buzz kills.’ (Sure, you guys. I know you secretly love them. Wink face emoji.)
Impact. Start with a bang
In fact, if I was really serious about bringing a reader into my cranky world, I’d have completely chopped out the I’ll be honest with you, and gotten straight to the point:
I-am-cranky. Boom. Like a punch in the face.
Imagine if that was the first sentence? Right away the reader would have been invested in my story. They’d have been curious. By starting with the words, I-am-cranky…I may have raised their eyebrows, a little. I may have prompted them to say, ‘But Brooke. Tell us why!’
Sentence length and flow
Humans really are creatures of symbolism and expectation, don’t you think? We often learn cool tricks without really even being aware we are doing so. One of those sneakily learned tricks is our ability to translate the flow of language.
You might have noticed my first few sentences were short and snappy, splattered onto the page like spitballs shot from the end of a pen? I suppose it’s dependent on many factors (such as culture or context) but often times, short sentences and singular words can indicate aggression. Anger. Hostility. (Ahem, crankiness.)
And then there’s the opposite side of the cranky coin. Long, rambling, breathy sentences. There’s something like one of those if you go back and have a look at paragraph two: a long sentence snapped in half with a single comma, delicately laced with the odd italic to really hit the cranky ball out to left field. (Btw. If we’re going to be really nerdy about it, bold seems a better way to emphasis angry words, to me. It’s just that italics is so much prettier, don’t you think?)
Well! I hope you enjoyed my little nerdy cranky party. I sure did! In fact, have you noticed? I’m not cranky anymore! Just look at all the joyful exclamation marks a simple nerdy party can bring to this life of mine.
Yes. I really do think I should have more of these nerdy parties. Especially if I ever get the cranks up again.
I adore words. I wrote about them here and I will, no doubt, write about them again on this blog because… I’m a little bit nerdy, like that.
I love writing words.
I love reading them, hearing them, thinking them. But most of all: I love feeling them.
Writing is one of those feeling things, for me. Reading also. And even though books have been a huge presence in my life for quite some time, it wasn’t until studying creative writing at university that I really started to think about words, and how they function in our lives.
Truly. I was stunned. How was it that something as simple as word choice could completely change the meaning of a sentence? And did you know that removing a word could enhance a sentence, rather than detract from it? I mean. What magic is that!
And so. I thought— why not dissect a word during the darling blog of May? Pick a word; play with it. Search for the magic hidden in its guts and sprinkle that magic around so all of you can share some too. Wouldn’t that be darling?
Yes! Let’s do it! And, in honour of the darling blog of May, the lucky word that will be chopped in half and gutted will be…
Darling. (Ha! I bet you didn’t see that one coming.)
The start of the word is a little bit ugly, isn’t it? (My Australian accent thinks so, anyway). To me, DAR drops off the tongue like a rock that’s just been lobbed into the ocean. It’s clunky. And not at all graceful.
If we look at the end of the word—the LING sound—can you hear how it flings itself off the tongue? Isn’t-that-cool? It sounds like a lovely little handbell on a hotel countertop, one you could ring and ring all day just to hear the tinkling goodness of its song.
To me, it’s the LING part of darling that makes the word chime. It’s the LING that makes the word sing.
See? Pretty, isn’t it?
Then there’s the deeper stuff of words, the emotions that naturally rise from a word because of how we’ve heard it used before. Take darling, for example. We’ve all heard it said a thousand times, and usually, it’s said with a deep puff of love. It makes sense that when we hear the word darling, we will feel nice.
Of course, the word darling doesn’t always bring in all the good feels. Mums? Dads? I’ll bet you’ll agree. The word darling can be something of a double-edged sword when it comes to using it on our precious little cherubs. At least, it is in my house.
Example 1. ‘Darling. Please. Get down off the TOP rung of the ladder. For the HUNDRETH time.’
Example 2. ‘Darling. You are so many different kinds of lovely. Never change.’
How epic is that.ONE word. So many meanings.
So! We come to the end of my little nerd fest. I hope you forgive me for putting you through all that, especially if you’re not a big reader or writer. Then again, it is all a part of this little darling month of mine—pushing the boundaries of darling, seeing just how much this little word has to give.
I think it gives an awful lot. I so hope you agree. xx
Maybe it’s the colour: dappled orangey, yellowy, red—to me, that colour sings. Just like summer.
It could also be the many hundreds of peaches I’ve slurped down over my thirty-something summers that give the word peach that summer feeling. Sticky fingers and dribbles down the chin—loving every minute, hating every minute, too.
No wonder those classic summer fruits have chiseled a feeling into my bones.
The word peach; the visual peach; the feeling…
Surely it’s not just me that feels it.
It’s the power of words, right?
Fascinating, isn’t it, that when we know a language so well we barely even think about the words that come tumbling out of us, and yet they paint our whole world.
Lately I’ve been wondering: why do certain books make me feel down to the very core, whilst others just make me smile?
I think I know one reason.
And the magic they puff up, and around, and all over us.