Words that Dance

Yes, dance.

And sing, and fight, and love, and laugh, and hate, and struggle - words that live.

Those kinds of words are the reason I love to read and why books are such marvelous companions. They are so much more than organized sequences of lines and dots filling up the numbered pages with figments of the author's imagination. They're...well, they can be so many things: exciting, full of adventure and fascination; wonderful, opening your eyes to new people and places and things; challenging, presenting a different vantage point and thereby making your scrutinize your own; delightful, filled with that which is good and lovely and inspiring.

They can also be boring. Depressing. Horrible, to the point where you want to throw the book across the room, or rip out the ending and paste your own in.

It takes several things working in combination to make any book, great or awful. There's the basic grammar and language component. Then there's style. And any number of other things I won't bother to enumerate. But the heart of the book is the story. The heart of the story is its characters. And the heart of characters is that they live.

Yes, I know, they're imaginary. In a very real sense, though, characters are alive. Or, at least they should be. Need to be, really. We identify with characters because some part of them translates into our world as real. The more of them that translates, the more we love them, the more we learn from them, the more we tell all our friends to go buy this book because it's just that good.

That realness has to exist in the characters before it can translate off the page. And for that realness to exist, the characters have to be alive within their own story. (This is why people think writers are crazy)

That's what I mean by words that dance. At some point along the storytelling timeline, something inexplicable happens. The words stop being mere words. The become people. Places. A whole new world (or our own world at a different time). A world full of people who dance, and sing, and fight, and love, and laugh, and hate, and struggle - people who live.

The trouble, for a writer (as a reader, you just get to enjoy it), is that once your characters are alive, you can't exactly control them. And that can be slightly problematic. They hate the wrong person, or love the wrong one. They rebel when you try to fit them into the story arc you had so carefully constructed. Or they up and die on you (and that's really, really annoying when you like said character). Oh, and if your story world is alive, guess what? Random characters appear and throw all sorts of wrenches into "your" story. Ask me how I know.

But when words come alive, they dance right through all the pages, through THE END, and into our hearts and minds.

I think that's worth a few complications.


  1. Hiya, fellow ABNAer!
    I love rebellious characters that I can't control. So much fun to chase them around on the page!

  2. Hi!
    I know what you mean :) And I'm glad you understand and agree, because my family thinks I'm nuts and my Mom thinks its the funnist thing. I keep telling her it's not that funny...but it's not working. Good luck in the contest!


Do share your thoughts - I enjoy reading them :)