A picture is worth…

The saying goes, as everyone knows, that a picture is worth a thousand words.  I had to look up the origins because I didn’t know what they were.  Apparently they are a bit muddled in the actual origins but the oldest in its current form was an advertisement back in the early 1900s loosely stating that you have to see it to believe it.  I love reading how different sayings came about to modern day.  I remember listening to the radio and hearing the phrase “whoopsie daisy” and wondering where in the hell that came from and shortly after discerning that it was probably someone about to step on a daisy and said whoopsie (don’t look it up on urban dictionary though, that is not what I had in mind)…(then, while looking it up I realized that its most likely oopsy daisy.)

But a picture being a thousand words is the simple idea of show don’t tell because when you’re trying to be succinct that less is better and in that sense 1 is better than 1000.  However I have always been on the side of words and thought this phrase is too simple to be given too much credence.  Words can do so much more than just show what a picture is saying.  A picture of a man cleaning up after a tornado can’t tell you about everything he lost in it.  A picture of a boy playing catch can’t tell you his dreams and fantasies.  A picture of a woman holding her newborn baby can’t tell you the emotions she’s feeling.  It may seem easy to assume what they are all thinking based on that picture but words can take you down some unexpected paths.

Words can make a story out of a picture.  They can take a simple picture of a woman waving before she drives away and give it back story and a future.  They can tell her thoughts and her fears.  They can foreshadow in addition to whats happening right there at that moment.

That isn’t to say that pictures don’t have their value.  Pictures have purpose of course and can convey great beauty and simplicity to any single frame captured.  Pictures can be pulled out and enjoyed in a moment or over time whether its a short 1 minute glance or in fifty years.  Pictures and words compliment each other more than anything else in existence.

But if I have to choose between the single picture or the thousand words I’d choose the thousand words.  I love words and everything you can do with them.  I love to be able to describe the details so someone can create their own picture.  How the nuance of someones facial expression or their position can be told exactly how it needs to be to convey a certain thought.  How someones emotions can be pulled out of their heart so perfectly with the use of the right words and phrases and how you can feel what they felt at that moment when they wrote it.  I love words and that’s why I want to be a writer.  I want to swim in a sea of words and have them surround me.  I want to play with them and make everyone feel what I feel.  I want the words to dance off of my fingers and into their minds and burrow deep inside so they can experience the words too.



She was fascinated with words. To her, words were things of beauty, each like a magical powder or potion that could be combined with other words to create powerful spells.


― Dean Koontz, Lightning

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