Saturday, June 23, 2012
Short and Sob-worthy
I frequently refer to myself as a verbomaniac. (Anyone who knows me in so-called 'real life' will understand.) I'm wordy. I tend to say in eighty words what could be said in eight. Because hey, words are fun. Putting them together is fun. Stringing out sentences is fun. Saying what you want to say is fun. Repeating yourself over and over is fun until it annoys your readers.
But being verbose isn't always a good thing (unless it's November, in which case bring it on). Sometimes the very best stories can be told in a very few words.
I recently came across this anecdote that pretty much stopped me dead in my voluble tracks and made me shut my mouth (er, fingers) faster than you can say "get to the point of the story, Amy." Ernest Hemingway, on being dared by some friends that he could not write a story in six words, wrote this:
For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.
The friends paid up.
I read that and teared up.
In just six short words, only two of which possessing more than one syllable, Hemingway told an incredibly sad tale. He's a writer famed for being short and to the point, not wasting words to say what the reader can infer for himself. That little story I reproduced above, the six-word tragedy? He considered that his best work.
Food for thought, y'all.