There’s a certain school of thought when teaching writing that says to write exactly what you mean. They often want you to write as simply as possible. You’ll see a lot of “Sally said,” and “He is tall, with long, black hair and bright, green eyes.”
There’s another school of thought when teaching writing that says to write what you mean, but in minute detail. This often results in students keeping thesaurus handy, because they learn that the instructors want you to avoid writing as simply as possible. Now, you will see “Sally expound broadly,” and “He stands higher than all others, his extensive, ebony locks offset by brilliant, peridot eyes.”
The problem with the latter is sometimes the synonyms don’t have the same meaning, exactly, as the word the student started with. Extensive can mean more than long. It often means “large” or “thorough”. And brilliant can mean “bright,” but it can also mean “very smart.” It depends on context. And sometimes, if the context isn’t there, the results are very silly.
Now, there are people who disagree on both sides. Some vehemently.
I happen to think that a nice blend is more natural, but I was raised by a librarian and a speech/theater professor. My natural speaking pattern is extremely odd, in comparison to some people. For others, it’s not so much.
I personally prefer reading things that are a blend of simple (especially if that simplicity underscores a mood or moment that needs basic truths to be told) and somewhat flowery language with less-used words (because I love words, and if later I want to go to a dictionary and look up something that made sense in context, but that I want to learn the finer nuances of after the story has been read through, I call that a win). I don’t particularly enjoy overly frilly books with a lot of gingerbread trim words, nor do I love overly basic books. Both are hard for me to sink my teeth into, for completely different reasons. If I’m constantly wondering about authorial intent, then I’m not really enjoying the story.
I hope, as I try writing fiction and other pieces more, that I succeed in a balance. I think my blogs do already, but it’s always hard to be sure from the inside.
I agree with him about the elitism, by the way. I can be elitist about some things with language, but this isn’t one of them. The only reason I can see for writing exclusively simply or exclusively using “expressive” words is to achieve a particular tone. (And frankly, as a tongue-in-cheek joke – a parody for instance, would be perfect.)
Fingers drift lightly over keys –
individual letters, black and white, or metal attached to levers to release air –
never pressing too hard, or too lightly, just enough.
Generous with time, speed, caresses, and
eager to find the exact combination that will
release the words, notes, music to
sooth and bring solace.
The other day, when driving, I thought “self, this train of thought where you are comparing X with Y would be perfect for a blog” and self agreed, and promptly shelved the remaining thoughts that were becoming an essay (mostly because driving).
So, the problem now is that I have no idea what essay I was thinking.
I’m pretty sure it was social justice-y. And saying that, I wonder if it was the comparison/contrast of my experience with Facebook vs Twitter vs Tumblr.
I think about various things, often driving or in the shower, and when I start thinking in paragraphs and how to revise sentences so that they are more concise and still expressive, that’s often how I come up with draft idea for essays (or sometimes stories/etc). The problem is, if I’m not near a computer or able to get near a computer before my brain is off on a different topic (say grocery shopping and making sure I didn’t forget anything on the list on my phone because what are we having for dinner this week again?) I often forget what I was going to write about.
How about you? How do you decide what to write about?
Moon beams glitter
over crescent shaped dreams
of a muse left bemused
by a world deaf
to her sweet murmurings.
Hero shaped stars
flicker in deep dark skies
hoping for tales anew.
While down below
so many weary souls
merely survive their days
too numb to see
ev’ry day miracles.
And so she sleeps
restless in her dreaming
lost to those souls searching
until they too
find rest and renewal.
(reblogging here so I have it collected here as well – originally published on Tumblr 11/19/14)
While I agree with the poster that it is good to call a spade a spade, I also think that using the word “troll” as both a noun and a verb, from a linguistic point of view, packs a whole lot of nuance into what is happening that calling someone a mere “harasser” (or most of those other specific terms) does not.
A troll is indeed, as stated by the OP, a monster that menaces whereas these are humans committing monstrous acts. But I think the thing being tossed aside in favor of clarifying speech is that many of these acts, especially when on the internet, are committed in a troll-like manner. They happen from below (where the comment section resides), they happen unseen to many (either because the perpetrator is choosing an anonymous feature or using a handle and userpic/icon that does not reflect their physical name/appearance in the real world) and they are very hard to avoid (sometimes even with help from those who should and could help).
In fantasy (which, quite a few of the old fairy tales were once intended as exercises in what my mom used to like to call the Consequences Game), a troll is what happens to young naive characters who are doing something they ought not be doing. They are not following the path. They are not going to school. They maybe are trying to do something good, but are overtaken by someone who is presenting themselves as in power and therefore entitled to a toll or fee to permit the hero to continue on their way.
This is exactly what many commenters who heap abuse (rape threats, death threats, generalized abuse) are doing. They believe they are entitled to their view and that their view is correct, so they are going to exact a toll of some kind from the person they are attacking. In many cases, they seem to feed off of the mental anguish, rather than wanting tasty goat flesh or coin.
Yes. We should call a racist a racist and a homophobe a homophobe. Should we excise the term “troll” from these self-same people (because yes, they are people) just because their skin isn’t green and warted and they don’t have exaggerated tusks as some trolls are shown? No. I think it adds a level of understanding to how horrible they are.
(As an aside, some of the early drawings of trolls in fairy-tale collections I remember the clearest are the ones that looked the most like angry white men wearing a loin cloth. They were black and white sketches; until the text told me they were green, I didn’t know they weren’t men.)
A week ago, I married my sweetheart. We’ve lived together for a bit more than 7 years, so in some ways, things don’t feel very different. I mean, my driver’s license still has my old last name and we haven’t gone on a honeymoon. Those are standard just after you get married things right?
In other ways, things are awesome and a little new. I grin at silly things, like when I get a text from my hubby (I can call him my hubby!!) saying, “Good morning Mrs <our last name>, I love you!” I can call him my husband (did I mention that was way more fun than I expected?)! Or I look over and I see a ring on his left hand – my sweetheart who does not wear jewelry (just watches). Or when I look down and see entirely too much sparkle on my own left hand.
We’ve each been married before. We wanted something pretty small, really simple, and with friends nearby. We got that. There were a few things that could have gone better (it was so very hot! and our after-wedding venue was not as exclusive as either of us would have liked, having non-wedding people in attendance), but all in all, we were really happy with how the evening went.
He said from the beginning that he wanted to say vows at sunset. I wanted the vows near the river, because the first weekend we kind of had a date (dates?) we had a long walk through one of the many parks near one of the two main rivers in town. We got that. Not the same park, but a park we have walked and biked through and next to a river that we have played in. We got to have friends who we care about witness us say I do. We got to have some family nearby, and know that other family was thinking of us. It was awesome.
Another thing I thought was sort of awesome was how similar our vows were. We didn’t coordinate them. We worked on them on our own, then shoved scraps of paper in our pockets to read from when the time came. He went first:
9 years ago I took a chance and it paid off. I couldn’t imagine life without you now. Your support and love have carried me through some very tough situations over the years. By taking this next step I hope things continue and grow from here for many years. I love you very much.
And then it was my turn:
From the first few dates, you felt safe. That sounds boring, but it was what I needed. You felt like home in human form. Things were maybe a bit awkward at first, with me living across the country on the other coast for a year, but I have never regretted moving back to give us a real chance. I still feel safe with you. I also feel silly, sexy, respected, important and most of all, loved. I am so proud you asked me to be your wife. I hope we have many, many more years together. I love you very much.
I’m wordier than he is, obviously. But it was awesome. I’m so glad things that worked, worked. I’m so glad our friends and family came. I’m so glad my sister was able to marry us. And most of all, even though I never thought I’d marry again, I’m so glad I married him.