I think we all remember the first time we realized the true power of words. It’s when you find a passage that just smacks you right in the heartstrings. You realize that you are not reading mere symbols on a page, but something truly magical. Suddenly, you are all-too-aware of the power these symbols have in the hands of a master. Often, this is a personal experience–for you and you alone to know. However, just yesterday, a friend of mine had this experience and was kind enough to share it with me.
My friend was playing World of Warcraft (WoW), an online video game in which he joins with millions of other people to partake in quests, gather loot, and explore a vast world. Many people in this game role-play, that is, write as if they are the character they are playing as. It’s here that my friend realized how powerful choice words can be.
I present that moment to you now. The following is a conversation that occurred over Skype. It is edited only to change the names of those who wished to be anonymous.
Friend: Can I tell you real quick about this guy I’ve been RPing with on WoW ?
Friend: Because he was AWESOME
Friend: Like, I told my english teacher awesome.
Derek: Wow. :P
Derek: As good as me awesome? :P
Friend: I dunno, I haven’t seen you RP in such a limited format.
Friend: Because, let’s face it, WoW is a VERY limiting format for RPing.
Derek: Uh, sure. :P
Derek: (I have no idea. :P)
Friend: (No place to put short stories. Everything you do for your character needs to be either actually RPed through with others or told through IC first person storytelling. Also, posts are SHORT.)
Derek: Sounds very limited indeed.
Friend: Anyway, he had the perfect use of “show don’t tell”
Friend: just with how he described something.
Friend: in two sentences.
Friend: See, we were having a conversation IC about why his character (Dee) joined the Blood Knights.
Friend: He saw the city burning while he was on a fishing vessel, and was unable to help out during the invasion because of it
Friend: My character, sensing where the story was going, reluctantly asked “Was your wife there on the boat with you?”
Friend: His response:
Friend: Dee looks back up to you with bloodshot eyes. Somehow, he seemed ages older than he had looked just moments ago. Slowly, he shook his head. “And neither was my daughter.”
Friend: Okay, okay, three sentences of description. I was off by one. Still, look at that. LOOK AT THAT.
Derek: *looks at it*
Derek: That is a description indeed. :P
Friend: He didn’t use any word talking about sadness or sorrow, or pain or misery
Friend: just through visual words
Friend: he was able to perfectly describe how his character was feeling.
Friend: He understands show don’t tell. :P
Friend: I told him how impressed I was after I was busy being sad. ;_;
Derek: Awww. :)
Friend: Exchanging backstories is an interesting RP activity in WoW
Friend: It’s an interesting RP activity anywhere, actually
Derek: Character development. :)
Derek: I feel like you just realized how good stories are told. ;P
Friend: A little.
Do you remember the first time you realized the power of words?