“To me the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the music the words make.” Truman Capote
Sure, we have things we want to say when we write—ideas, insights, emotions, fears and joys we want to share. All this is true. But for many of us what Truman says here is also true: We love the music that words make and we love making music with our words.
Have you ever stopped, breathless and in awe, at the words of a writer you’re reading? Something about the rhythm, the arrangement of the words chosen just transports you? You realize that each word in that phrase or sentence or passage was carefully chosen and crafted for its effect. They add up to something powerful, something that touches you.
Or do you ever have a phrase or sentence that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading a novel or play or a poem? I often think of a line of Langston Hughes: “My soul is grown deep like a river.” How beautiful that is! The sound of the words is like ripples of water washing through me. There’s a line from Thornton Wilder’s marvelous novel, “The Bridge of San Luis Rey” in which he says of a character, “Her eyes ransacked her heart”—what an image. “Ransacked”—what a wonderful and unusual word choice!
As writers, we all have lines like these running through our heads and hearts—beautiful music reminding us just how magical words can be. Creating music along with meaning—what a challenge to aspire to!
For us as writers, making this kind of music starts with serious fun, with playing around with words, arranging and rearranging them. Coming up with creative combinations of words that are juicy and thrilling. What a joy when we hit the jackpot and write something that has a music all its own!
So let’s mine our words for meaning, but let’s not forget the music. Music is waiting inside us, just waiting to be summoned to the page.
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