The word comes from Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig, Jewish philosophers who translated the Hebrew Bible into German the early part of the 20th century. These two guys coined leitwortstil: "Leading word style." So what is this style all about? Throughout a narrative the author chooses to repeat a word or the root of word. This perfectly placed repetition helps readers grasp the meaning of a story. The root, word or phrase hits with punch. Leading words catch the readers attention, and most of all create a resonating moment of thought in the reader. My total thought about leitworstil is well-placed repetition can thrum thematic chords within your work.
You can move beyond leading words and use leading clauses and sentences. A innocuous repeated phrase in STAR WARS comes to mind that packs a mighty punch; "I've got a bad feeling about this." It's written for comedic effect but it also adds thematic strength to the storytelling. I feel the waves of meaning, vibrating in that sentence -- something about the irony of existence, something about this stuff always happens to me, something about how I knew this was the wrong way to go and yet here I am caught in the glue.
The repetition makes us laugh, but under there we think. We connect. We commiserate. The waters of meaning are stirred up. We peek behind the veil. I absolutely don't think Lucas was intentionally stirring up theme when he wrote the line. It probably just felt right, and every time it repeated it kept feeling right. I really do think our instincts, impressions, and feelings must be listened to when folding theme into the mix.
Hope this makes you think about leading words. Next week I will expand, and dig into thematic patterning. I hope you come back for more on theme. Meanwhile, seize the day.
The doodle this week is from my daughter Jubilee: "Handstand."
Finally a quote for your pocket.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.. Helen Keller