Daniel (Danny) Lance Wright, Author

Friday, June 17, 2011

More Than Just Words

Every novelist has unique ways of making a story more interesting to readers. There are many plot devices to use and, as strict as grammatical standards are for sentence structure and punctuation, it still leaves myriads of ways to combine things to create memorable reading experiences. That said, I am constantly in the hunt for better ways of saying things.

Before I actively became engrossed in building novels, I was always a fan of the well-turned and well-timed phrase; often sticking with me for years, maybe even a lifetime. What once had been pastimes have, long since, become research missions. These days, watching movies, reading, or even mundane conversations are potential sources of things said that may, in the moment and context in which they are spoken, be absolutely profound. Yet, the words used are of little import.

Arnold Schwartzenegger stands on a multi-million-dollar legacy that sure wasn’t built on his acting talent or, possibly, his governing ability either. One thing he did do, and very well, was to leave behind a string of phrases that have, over time, become iconic: “I’ll be back”, “Asta la Vista, Baby” and on and on. The point is; never underestimate the power of the written or spoken word. Of course, Arnold was clearly into well-timed irony. I bet everyone can visualize exactly what he looked like as he said these lines.

Another example of a phrase that has stuck with me that may, or may not, be memorable to you was during the original “Road Warrior” movie when Mel Gibson was just a sprout developing his acting wings. Near the end of the movie, he stood battered and beaten before Tina Turner and her filthy band of n’er-do-wells. She looked him up and down and said, “We do make a raggedy pair, don’t we?” The line follows me to this day. I can’t even put into words why, but it does.

A few years back, at a family reunion, an uncle I hadn’t seen in many years walked up to me and stood very close looking up at me. I assumed his vision was poor and wanted to see if he recognized me. I became uneasy because he just stared without saying anything. So, I answered the unasked question, “I’m Bettye and Kenneth’s youngest. Zane is my older brother, but I’m the better looking one.” After another few seconds he squinted and simply said, “So you say.” Suddenly, I had another well-timed line that has followed me and shows up occasionally in my stories. That uncle is gone now, but I remember him fondly for those three simple words.

More recently, in the movie “Avatar”, Sam Worthington’s character, Jake Sully, said several times, varying it only slightly, “Sooner or later we all have to wake up.” When I first heard it, I think I missed the next several minutes of dialogue because that line went round and round in my head as a profound statement applicable to so many different situations. But, there’s nothing exceptional about it as a stand-alone comment. The reason I’ve chosen to write about this today is because yesterday morning, I woke mouthing the line, “Sooner or later we all have to wake up.” I don’t know why I was saying it and can’t be sure it wasn’t aloud.

It would be nice to know, though, what my avatar was doing all night.

Daniel (Danny) Lance Wright
Author of
"Paradise Flawed"/Dream Books LLC/2009
"Six Years' Worth"/Father's Press/2007
"Where Are You, Anne Bonny?"/Rogue Phoenix Press 2010/ ebook available
“Trouble”, short story/CrossTIME Science Fiction Anthology, Vol. IX
“Dancing Away”/short story/Untreed Reads

“Defining Family”
“Annie’s World: Jake’s Legacy”
“The Last Radiant Heart” (re-release)

1 comment:

  1. Great article. However, a few nits. It was the third in the Mad Max movies that Tina Turner uttered that line. First there was "Mad Max", then, "The Road Warrior", and last, "Mad Max, Beyond Thunderdome", and in that movie Tina Turner's character said: "Well, ain't we a pair, Raggedy Man"