I named my blog 26 Letters, Making Words because one day I made the off-hand comment that all books start from just 26 letters, combined over and over to make different words. We can pretend to be linguistical geniuses, but it’s all sort of a big game of Boggle, and if you’re lucky and diligent and you paid attention in Miss Larsen’s Senior English class, you can probably write a pretty good piece of fiction.
Those 26 letters I have at my disposal are the same 26 letters Edgar Allen Poe had, and that John Steinbeck had, and that Ray Bradbury had. And they each ended up with words and sentences that inspired me and made me want to write. Now I have to scoop up those letters and make words. Make the words into sentences. Sentences into paragraphs. You get the idea.
Now I’m making words every day and I’ve finished the rough drafts of two novels. One is a romance novel and one is a horror novel. The romance novel started as a funny horror novel but it turned a corner somewhere and became a romance. The horror novel is still horror.
That little switcheroo wasn’t my idea, but words don’t always do what you tell them to do. Sometimes they gang up on the writer and head off in their own direction. A plane ride becomes a road trip, or a walk down Lonely Street becomes a trip to the Las Vegas All-Nite Drive-Through Wedding Chapel. Words are fickle that way.
And paragraphs? Don’t get me started on paragraphs. Those things will knock a writer right off the plot. Sometimes, they’re wise paragraphs and the change is good, but sometimes, the writer must be tough and throw those paragraphs in the trash. It’s only words, after all, just a bunch of letters. Don’t be too proud to mix ’em up or even throw them away.