Robert McCloskey wrote, “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” Well I do hear you Mr. McCloskey, but I’ve never believed the burden to understand lies with the receiver…such burden belongs to the communicator.
I have a dictionary and I know some really nice “big” words. I like to use the best words to make my point or to communicate my idea. But for a writer, the writing should not be about demonstrating his or her literary greatness. Instead the goal is to be a clear communicator of ideas and of things for consideration. To be a great communicator requires the simplest most direct route from the writer’s brain to the readers.
You’ll never require a dictionary to understand my fiction. I learned that from Hemmingway. Short, direct sentences filled with the best “common” words I can find. I don’t strive to have a reader amazed by my vocabulary or complex sentence use. I want them to “hear” my voice. I want the words on the pages to be sounds that let them see what I see, hear what I hear and think about what I think. I’ll never write a piece of great literary fiction because my goal is poetic verse conveyed in the easiest to understand words and sentences.
I approach story-telling the same as any conversation. For the interaction to have value it must be easy and effortless. To share the grand and complex connections and patterns of the world in simple symbols so that we can move from comprehension to contemplation. There is of course beauty in the process of photosynthesis, but in the absence of such knowledge there is still true splendor in that simple blade of grass.
Here are some of my favorite short, simple and direct 2 sentence stories:
You hear your mom calling you into the kitchen. As you are heading down the stairs you hear a whisper from the closet saying “Don’t go down there honey, I heard it too.
The sounds of the screams were awful. They were worse when I realized they were my own.
The funeral attendees never came out of the catacombs. Something locked the crypt door from the inside.
My daughter won’t stop crying and screaming in the middle of the night. I visit her grave and ask her to stop, but it doesn’t help.
They delivered the mannequins in bubble wrap. From the main room I begin to hear popping.
Categories: A to Z Blog Challenge