|An Essay on Style through Diction
Author: Zekarius PM
An Essay I wrote in my college writing style class to talk about the importance of diction with a demonstration of my style as the second chapter.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Chapters: 2 - Words: 3,721 - Published: 04-27-10 - Status: Complete - id: 2801320
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"5 minutes, Mr. Yarrington," a young woman with a set of headphones on said as she poked her head into a small dressing room.
"Thank you," he replied as she poked back out and shut the door. "I can't believe that I'm actually going ta' be on the Ellen Degeneres show. This's … almost too much to believe." His name was Luke Yarrington.
6 months ago, Luke had finished his first novel. Within two months, the novel had taken off, and he had become a big star. Book signings and autographs on the street were common. He had even done a couple interviews for magazines, but this was the first time Luke was going to be on television.
"Alright, Luke old boy, get it together. You don't wanna make a fool a' urself on national tv." Luke looked at the clock. 2 minutes, he thought, I'd better get ready. Luke stood up and straightened his clothes, smoothing out the wrinkles and making sure that his shirt was tucked in. He looked at himself in the mirror. His hair was combed to the side, and he was wearing a blue and white dress shirt tucked into his black dress pants. Although he was 18, Luke had no facial hair and looked much younger. "I look very grown-up … ish," Luke said to himself. Luke stood there for a few more seconds before saying, "Forget this," and un-tucking his shirt. He pulled out a comb and combed his hair straight back. He looked at himself again and smiled. "There, that's more me."
The door opened again, and the woman that had spoken to him earlier said, "30 seconds, Mr. Yarrington."
"Thank you, I'm coming," Luke said as he turned and walked to the door. He turned right and walked down a hallway. In a couple of seconds, he was backstage.
Faintly, he could hear Ellen talking about the book and about how many copies had been sold already. The woman with the headset tapped him on the shoulder making Luke look at her. She mimed, you go on in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, now. Luke nodded and walked out on stage to a cheering audience. He smiled and waved at them. Ellen met him halfway across the stage and shook his hand. She led him over to two plush chairs, and the pair sat down.
"So, Luke, tell me a little 'bout yourself," Ellen said.
"Okay," Luke said. For a few minutes, Luke spoke about how he grew up in a little rinkadink town, how he started writing at the age of 12, and how he spent most of his time alone, that is until lately. "I've been all over the country for book signings and film premieres. I meet all sorts of people, now. People ages 6 to 60 come up to me on the street and ask for my autograph. I am more popular now than I ever had bean."
"Well, well, well, that's quite interesting. Now, tell us about the book," Ellen said.
"Well, as you know, Voices of the Wind is about a world much like our own, but more in touch with the types of things that we can't communicate with in our world."
"Like?" she asked.
"Like energy, for instance. Energy exists and is important in our world, but we have no real control over it like they do in the book. Energy for us here is either mechanical or electrical, controlled by either muscle or some piece of technology. There, energy … comes from within and controls other things."
"Hmmm … well, that is interesting. Well, I have another question. Do you think that there is anything about your writing that sets you apart from all other writers?"
"You mean … is there anything about my writing that I think is special?" Luke asked. Ellen nodded. "Well, if there is anything special that I do to my writing, I would have to say that is in my diction."
"My word choice. As you can tell, I like ta' invent words and then even whole branches of science in order ta' accommodate these words. I feel that some of the best stories involve readers learning with the characters as the characters learn. Not just have things explained to them, but getting the information as the characters get it. Inventing words and then teaching the characters and the readers what those words means adds ta' the reader's experience."
"Well, that is very true," Ellen said.
"But beyond that, my diction itself, the simple choice of what words to use, is very distinctive. As you may have noticed, I tend to use scientific sounding words more often than necessary. These types of words make people think about the same thing a more mundane word would have, but from a different perspective."
"Can you give me an example?"
"If I use the word animal, you think non-sentient creature with a neutral alignment, a creature that is just an animal. If I use the word beast, you may still think non-sentient creature, but you also think an evil alignment or malevolent attitude. Do you see what I'm getting at? Just the change of animal to beast can alter the … perception of the idea behind the word."
"I think I can understand," Ellen replied, "But what do you mean by idea behind the word?"
"Animal, beast, creature, all 3 of these words are different words that describe a life form, generally a quadruped. Correct?"
"But each of these specific words has a different connotation on that idea of a quadripedal life form. Animal suggests something neutral and rather ordinary." Ellen nodded her head. "Beast, as I have already said, gives a negative connotation as an animal with an ill will or malevolent nature. Creature gives the perception of something out of the ordinary or magical."
"You're right. I never thought about it like that before."
"Diction has more of an effect than just on how you view one word, though."
"Think about the choices that we make everyday. Whether I choose to have coffee or not can effect how I behave around someone I need to talk to. How I talk to that person can effect how they see themselves. Do you see? One choice can affect any number of things in a long chain of events. It's the same way with diction. One choice can affect many other choices. Whether or not I choose to use a certain word to describe something may limit the amount of other words I can use to describe the same thing, which in turn sets a boundary for the diction that can be used throughout the entire piece, unless the point is to be random or to look at things from multiple perspectives."
"Well, this has all been very interesting, but now we need to take a commercial break. We'll be right back." Ellen looked at the camera smiling as the outro jingle played.
After a few seconds, she turned back to Luke and said, "So, we have a few minutes before the commercials come back on. I still don't get what you mean by the idea behind a word. Can you explain while we have time?"
"Sure, no problem," Luke said sounding calmer then he had while on camera, "In any situation, the choice of the word depends a lot on what information is to be relayed by it. Behind each word is an idea, something that that word represents. That idea transcends all languages. Corn, whether the English word or French word, means the idea of corn. All words have an idea behind them. One of the reasons I have hard feelings towards the English language is because there are some words in it that have multiple possible ideas behind it. The word love, for example. It encompasses several meanings such as a crush, familial connections, true love, and caring about people, compassion. It has those different ideas behind it making it hard to understand. If I had my way, I would have different words for all these ideas. Even though there aren't different words, I can use phrases to describe the different ideas. And, the choosing of the words in those phrases is under the same rules and principles as any other choice in diction."
He's certainly amazing, Ellen thought to herself. He gave me all of this information understandably in less than three minutes without missing a beat.
"30 seconds to live feed," a guy with a headset said to Ellen.
"Thanks, now, Luke, I'm going to ask you a few more questions this segment," Ellen said. Seeing the blank look on Luke's face, Ellen said, "Luke?" Luke had completely spaced out like he was in a trance. He was lost in thought deep in the conversation that he and Ellen were having before. He was continuing it in his mind.
He was just getting onto the point he was going to make that thought and language were interconnected, that ideas and words were two facets of the same thing when Ellen said something to him.
"Ummm … what? I'm sorry. Could you ask that again?" Luke said waking from his trance.
"I said that I was wondering 'bout the rumors that Hollywood is going to turn your book into a movie. Could you tell me if this is true?" Ellen asked motioning her head towards the camera ever so slightly. Luke took several seconds to respond as he was attempting to switch gears from the previous conversation to this one.
"I'm … not sure if … if I should. I don't know how my publisher would react. However, I will say that I would really enjoy it if they turned my book into a movie."
"Why?" Ellen asked.
"Screenwriting branches off into a whole 'nother form of writing. The challenges of giving information in screenwriting are that it leaves it all to the dialogue and visual cues. The demand on choosing the proper words in the dialogue becomes crucial. It is the main way to give information in a movie. Making the proper word choices is the only way to get the information across correctly. It will be a wonderful challenge."
"That is good to hear. Well, it has been wonderful talking to you, Luke, but I'm afraid our time's up."
"It has been wonderful talking to you as well," Luke said.
"Well, that's it for today's show. Tune in tomorrow when we have Keira Knightly and Pink. Until next time, folks," Ellen said before the outro music played again. After a few seconds, Ellen stood up and motioned for Luke to do the same. The two of them walked calmly backstage continuing their discussion.
As they did, Luke thought to himself, we've explored so much, and yet … I've barely begun to scratch the surface.
"Listen, Luke, I am a little busy right now. But, after about a half an hour, I'm free. Would you like to have lunch?"
"That would be great", Luke replied.
"Okay, I'll stop by your dressing room in about a half an hour and pick you up."
"Okay, but were taking my car", Luke said with a chuckle.
"Okay, see you then", said Ellen. The two of them parted ways down separate hallways back towards their respective dressing rooms. As Luke got back to his dressing room, he continued to think about what he and Ellen could talk about. What have we already talked about? Inventing words and the significance, connotations, ideas behind words, and how it bridges the gap between languages. What else could we talk about? "Oh," Luke said aloud, "I didn't actually get to talk about thought and language. I could do that."
Luke sat conversing with himself for the rest of the half hour before Ellen knocked on his door. "Luke, can I come in?"
"Yeah sure," Luke said before she opened the door and popped inside.
"You ready to go?"
"Yeah," Luke stood up, "Let's go." The two of them left Luke's dressing room and walked down the hallway until they got to the exit.
"So, where's your car?"
"That one." Luke pointed over at a cherry red 66' mustang convertible parked nonchalantly at the edge of the parking lot.
"Nice", Ellen said as she and Luke walked over to it. Luke bowed his head in gratitude. The two got into the car, and Ellen directed Luke to a small bistro. They parked and went inside. They got settled and ordered and, then, started their conversation back up. "So, Luke, I noticed that you seem to think about things differently than most people. Why is that?"
Luke took several breaths thinking before saying, "I suppose … it's because … I'm weird." Ellen shook her head slightly, confused. "I was born almost three months premature. The fact that I'm alive is a miracle, but the fact that I have no birth defects is an even bigger miracle. I think … that not only did God save me, but he gave me this mind that thinks differently about things."
"You think … it's a gift?" Ellen asked.
"Yes, it's a gift," Luke answered, "There is no way that I'm this … 'special' on my own."
"Earlier, on the show, you sounded like you were leading up to something. What was it?"
"Thought …" Luke said.
"Thought … and language. There really isn't much difference."
"I don't understand."
"Of course. You don't think like I do. When we think, we think in the language we talk in, right?"
"Yeah, I suppose so."
"That means that language and thought are connected. Everything we do is displayed in language, writing, speaking, thinking. I find that when you are trying ta' learn another language, the biggest problem is you are trying ta' think in English and speak in another language. If you can think in that other language, then you have succeeded in learning it masterfully."
"Huh", she said, "You really are incredible."
"Not really. As I said, it's a gift."
"Well … anyways, I would really like to know more about how you write", Ellen said.
"Well, I could tell you more about my diction", Luke suggested.
"Okay", Ellen said. A waitress came over to their table with a tray of food. "Thank you."
"Thank you", Luke echoed. After she had deposited her load and left, Luke said, "How we choose what word to use is important. How do you choose what word to use when talking on your show?"
"I think about what I want to convey with my words and then pick appropriate words to use."
"Does anyone ever misunderstand you?" Luke asked.
"Yes, from time to time," Ellen replied.
"How is that possible? If you always pick the right words, then how can they misunderstand you?" Ellen opened her mouth, but no words came out. She looked off into the corner thinking deeply.
"People can misunderstand you if you don't pick the right words, which I rarely do now, but … if you never make a wrong choice, and they still do …" Ellen trailed off.
"People associate things with different words. I think melancholy means black, dark, depressive. But, I had a music teacher that thought it meant just a little dark."
"So, since people don't always think about the same word in the same way, misunderstandings can happen," Ellen said.
"Because it is a difference in thought not in language," Luke finished. "The reason I choose certain words over others is always because I want people ta' think about what they're reading. Have you read the Inheritance cycle by Christopher Paolini?"
"No, I'm afraid I haven't," Ellen said slightly thrown by this change in conversation.
"Well, he does something that I really admire. In the third book, he gives us a dragon's point of view. In this point of view, things are really different. The way that things are described is very image based not language based. The dragon thinks so very different than humans that it is fascinating ta' read. I try ta' make my readers think just as much as those passages did for me."
"Well, you certainly gave me a lot to think about." Ellen held up her diet soda, and Luke did the same with his root beer. They clinked glasses and Ellen said, "To … diction, language, thought …"
"And life, friends, and writing," Luke finished.