But, Have YOU Said It? A Writing Challenge


By:  Marilyn L. Davis


Words: The Writer’s Resource for this Challenge


I’m always amazed how each writer takes the same words and creates a completely different story. Some educate; others enchant and a few entertain. Which category is most authentic for you? How will you respond to the challenge? 

Too Few – Too Many – Just Right

I recently wrote about not understanding something. In my case, if there are too few words or the wrong words, I might not understand the intention of the writer.  So, writers have to use correct, clear, and concise words to convey their intent. However, there are some writers who over-explain. Why do we tend to do that?
  • Fear of being misunderstood
  • We’re afraid we’ll appear ignorant about our topic
  • Plain English seems too hard to write
  • Fear of boring words

Simple, Sound Advice about the Right Words

So, what do great writers have to say about words? These may help inspire you for the challenge. Click To Tweet

I’m sure I’ll enjoy your submission, but just in case you need some inspiration, here’s what many writers think about words.

“Words could betray you if you chose the wrong ones, or mean less if you used too many. Jokes could be grandly miscalculated, or stories deemed boring, and I’d learned early on that my sense of humor and ideas about what sorts of things were fascinating didn’t exactly overlap with my friends’.”   Robyn Schneider
“I like to use simple words, but in a complicated way.”   Carol Ann Duffy
“I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences…Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them―then the rest will be valuable…”   Mark Twain
“Works of imagination should be written in very plain language; the more purely imaginative they are the more necessary it is to be plain.”   Samuel Taylor Coleridge
“Let grammar, punctuation, and spelling into your life! Even the most energetic and wonderful mess has to be turned into sentences.” ― Terry Pratchett

 Strong Opinions about Words

“Political writing in our time consists almost entirely of prefabricated phrases bolted together like the pieces of a child’s Meccano set…To write in plain, vigorous language one has to think fearlessly, and if one thinks fearlessly one cannot be politically orthodox.”  George Orwell
“…Sure, there are trashy books that do really well, but that’s because there are trashy facets of humanity. What people value in their books—and thus what they count as literature—really tells you more about them than it does about the book.”  Brent Weeks

“Words! What power they hold. Once they have rooted in your psyche, it is difficult to escape them. Words can shape the future of a child and destroy the existence of an adult. Words are powerful. Be careful how you use them because once you have pronounced them, you cannot remove the scar they leave behind.” Vashti Quiroz-Vega

“Nouns and verbs are the guts of the language. Beware of covering up with adjectives and adverbs.” A.B. Guthrie Jr.

 The Magic of Words

“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it until it begins to shine.”  Emily Dickinson
“A book is an arrangement of twenty-six phonetic symbols, ten numerals, and about eight punctuation marks, and people can cast their eyes over these and envision the eruption of Mount Vesuvius or the Battle of Waterloo.”  Kurt Vonnegut
“You string some letters together, and you make a word. You string some words together, and you make a sentence, then a paragraph, then a chapter. Words have power.”  Chloe Neill
“Words have weight.”
Stephen King

The Working Writer Thinks…

“To write as if your life depended on it; to write across the chalkboard, putting up there in public the words you have dredged; sieved up in dreams, from behind screen memories, out of silence– words you have dreaded and needed in order to know you exist.”  Adrienne Rich
“I long ago abandoned myself to a blind lust for the written word. Literature is my sandbox. In it I play, build my forts and castles, spend glorious time.”  Rabih Alameddine
“Mostly, we authors must repeat ourselves – that’s the truth…Then we learn our trade, well or less well, and we tell our two or three stories – each time in a new disguise – maybe ten times, maybe a hundred, as long as people will listen.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Dear Aspiring Writer, you are not ready. Stop. Put that finished story away and start another one. In a month, go back and look at the first story. RE-EDIT it. Then send it to a person you respect in the field who will be hard on you. Pray for many many many red marks. Fix them. Then put it away for two weeks. Work on something else. Finally, edit one last time. Now you are ready to submit your first work…”  Inez Kelley
“There’s a difference between writing for a living and writing for life. If you write for a living, you make enormous compromises….If you write for life, you’ll work hard; you’ll do what’s honest, not what pays”  Toni Morrison

Best Advice for All of Us


“Surely it is an odd way to spend your life – sitting alone in a room with a pen in your hand, hour after hour, day after day, year after year, struggling to put words on pieces of paper in order to give birth to what does not exist, except in your head. Why on earth would anyone want to do such a thing? The only answer I have ever been able to come up with is: because you have to because you have no choice.”  Paul Auster 

“If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent, whatever that is. Who am I? What right have I to speak? Who will listen to me if I do? You’re a human being, with a unique story to tell, and you have every right. If you speak with passion, many of us will listen. We need stories to live, all of us. We live by story. Yours enlarges the circle.” Richard Rhodes
opportunity door 2

Up for the Challenge? 


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