The Study Dude—Gone with the Words

Learn how to paint words—in your writing, life, and dreams.  Creative people think thoughts as vivid as movies, says author Barbara Baig (2015).  So, daydream Gone with the Wind in words.  But first, study your dreams.

Once, I awoke during a dream, but the dream kept playing.  So, I quietly watched the dream like a blockbuster film.  But no flick could’ve captured the 3D awe.  When I rustled a bit, two voices muttered as the dream machine halted—cogs blowing Walt Disney’s last breath.

Now, imagine heavenly dreams.  When nightmares jolt me awake, I cook up angelic endings.  When the dreams reoccur, I discover churches instead of dead-ends, nuns instead of Weinstein, Bibles instead of Introduction to Anatomy.

So, we can change endings of dreams.  Why not of real life?

I aimed to do just that—through a documentary.   The film’s premise?  Reimagine reality; live a delusion.  In other words, change dull grey roads to golden jeweled cobblestones.  Change lone geese to angels riding pastel doves.  Change bitter baristas to Mother Teresa footing the bill—yes, if only in your mind.

Sprinkle in spiritual imagery such as Tibetan treats—violin-like singing bowls, burbling Buddha fountains, sweet Ylang-Ylang aromas, glittery Amethyst rocks, and moaning monk meditations.  Add these to your deluded reality—and dreams.

The reward?  My tweaked dreams still reoccur.  And if life moves in circles, my delusions will someday flower.

Barbara Baig shows how to take daydreams and turn them into words in her book Spellbinding Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Achieving Excellence & Captivating Readers:

  • Learn to paint words: “Train [yourself] in the language of the imagination” (p. 74).
  • Imaginative writers merely practice more: they observe, describe, and narrate.
  • Get the terminology straight: Description involves static (still) images; narration involves moving (animated) images; discursive writing persuades, argues, explains, or instructs.
  • Essays use dull, discursive writing [but description and narration spice the bland. See Dr.  Helen Sword’s book Stylish Academic Writing].
  • Train yourself to sense your surroundings. Burn what you sense in memory.  That’s the mark of imaginative writers.
  • Imagine some place you love—real or fictitious. Jot down all the sensory stuff in your special world.
  • Collect words that reflect sight: shapes, colors, sizes, and so forth.
  • Similarly, collect words for all the other senses: smell, touch, taste, hearing—words like smooth, feathery, honey-sweet, and thunder.
  • Notice body language, too: postures, stretches, grins, and grimaces.
  • Play with something called synesthesia, which means mixing senses: smelling tastes, seeing touch, hearing scents, and so forth.
  • Synesthesia happens often in writing: “the soft smile,” “the sweet stench,” “the bitter touch.”
  • Turn emotions into sensory images. Don’t say, “He loved her.”  Say instead, “He called her playful pet names—Sweet, Baby, and Love—as he whispered his innermost thoughts.”   Or say, “He pulled her in for a bear hug, breathing a puff of air into the crown of her head.”
  • Be selective where you increase or decrease sensory details.
  • Clarify abstract words like “justice” with metaphors, similes, and analogies.
  • To paint words, either describe static images or narrate moving images. Or do both.

Yes, turn images into description or narration.  And never moan, “Too hard!”  When I first weeded passive sentences, the task seemed a nightmare—now, second nature.

And as for my nightmares? No more.  My delusions?  Well, I mull my documentary—aptly titled Gone with the Words.