Recently, my wife was helping me by doctoring an image of a young girl in Photoshop. She zoomed in on the image until all we could see were blurred patches of color. Then she lightened the color of three pixels. At that instant, the image was unrecognizable. But when she zoomed back out and we compared the new version with the original, the expression on the girl’s face had changed entirely. A slight change in tone of three dots had altered the illusion.
The same is true with words, I thought. A change in one word can alter the mood of a scene, can make us love or hate a fictitious character. But like the pixels, the words are only brush strokes, the magic of the artist that tickles the perception of the reader/viewer just enough so their imagination comes alive. The result, if done well? A truth more real than reality.