Photoplay & Words of the Day

My new word of the day is photoplay, and I totally stumbled across it on accident which is probably why I now love it – because I want to say I reside on the corner of fate and happenstance. I came across it as I was looking for a synonym for cinematography, and that is what the internet dredged up for me (a little random, but I love getting lost on discovering different connotations for words – I really am that easily entertained which must speak volumes about my mental fortitude – now back to the story I’m trying to tell!). What I like about it is that it it evokes the image of what the best films are able to do, which is essentially move us with the story that they’re showing us. The moving photos ought to play upon our emotions and provoke us to feel something. A picture’s worth a thousand words, or so I’ve heard, but what good can a single word do?

Arguably, I would wager that the right word spoken at a particularly telling moment is what our lives seem to boil down to at times. Let me give you two examples of how much a simple yes or no answer can complicate everything:

  1. Saying “No” to temptation, whilst I’m sure isn’t easy, is nonetheless likely better than ruining a marriage.

  2. Saying “Yes” when someone asks you whether they ought to proceed with a pregnancy is just as dicey a situation as the one above.

With both of the examples above I’m sure if I tried I could turn either into a comedy or a tragedy, depending on what I wanted to convey. The problem with writing is that you must weigh your words even more carefully than when you’re speaking, because you ought to be searching for the ones that will show what it is you’re trying to articulate. A video is likely the easiest method to get us to feel something, because we have the juxtaposition of video and audio elements to fully engage us. A photo or a speech can still convey to us the emotion that we ought to be feeling because they can still force us to interact with at least one of the our major senses of perception – sight or sound. The trouble with the written word is that while words on paper are visible, at a glance they all look the same and seem boring. Our minds are naturally inclined to want to find a story*, but it’s hard with words because we can’t immediately see where the author is taking us. If we can’t see where they’re taking us, we have to somehow remain engaged enough to at least want to see where the road they’ve invited us to travel down with them will lead.

Anyone who’s mastered the art of written storytelling must understand that the words one elects to use matter tremendously when one is writing. My own personal goal whenever I am writing centers around the fact that there is an emotion or a thought that I am trying to leave imprinted upon my reader’s mind, because if there wasn’t then what would be the point of bothering to put my words anywhere at all? The best analogy I can come up with off the top of my head is one I’ll have to borrow from another visual art: let us pretend that for now, I am a painter. Each and every word I use is a brushstroke on the blank canvas that is inside my reader’s head, and my goal is to leave my reader with a finished masterpiece when I am done. If I’ve told my story well, they should feel that they could see a blue rose as I’ve described it as vividly as if it were physically under their nose.

An excellent video will play with your emotions, because the images and sounds that are shown to you are carefully chosen with that goal in mind. Any piece of written work ought to be able to do the same, and that is all I am trying to say.

*The article linked above is a thought-provoking read if you’re interested, which long with the word photoplay led to this post, and is leading into another about how our brains are wired to look for stories as well.

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