A to Z Blog Challenge

E is for Easy

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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.

 

8 replies »

  1. Amazing what you can convey with just a few well-chosen words and phrases. I like this two sentence story particularly:

    “My husband is asleep on the couch. I have to be careful where I walk in the living room while he sleeps, or I’ll slip in the pool of red.”

  2. Those are great lines…creepy but great!
    Robert McCloskey’s quote is awesome as well. I believe in simplicity when it comes to writing also. The most common words are the best since it makes it natural. Ever since Twilight a lot of YA books have the same few “big” words in them…all from Twilight of course, and it irks me so bad! A 16 year-old doesn’t walk around saying “unequivocally” or “permeable”…etc, etc. Ugh. Anyway, great post lol

  3. I love anything that’s easy. Doesn’t matter what it is, really, as long as it’s easy.

    Robert McCloskey has been eavesdropping at my house, I think, because his words sum up most conversations between my husband and me. How dare he steal our stuff and make it his? Especially now that he’s dead, and I have no recourse but to let him take my words.

    I love and am creeped out completely by the two-sentence stories, and can’t even choose a favorite. You win all around on this post, Raymond.

  4. wow your short sentences convey so much and put a chill up my spine especially the one with the woman going to her daughter’s grave. You’re right-one doesn’t need to be so verbose

  5. Oh, two sentence stories. Some of mine:

    Angel of Mercy

    The man in the white doctor’s coat looks down on me in my hospital bed and sadly shakes his head. The dour-faced nurse with the syringe walks right through him.

    Pity

    She looked out over the canal and felt an intense pity for the blind man for missing out on the lovely view.
    The blind man leaned back with a smile on his face, tilted up at the sun.

    “What If I Can’t Pay?”

    The enforcer stepped out of the BMW, took a last drag from his cigarette and shot the butt into the car, where the burning cigarette bounced against Pascal’s chest and dropped in his lap.
    In a reflex Pascal opened his legs and the smouldering butt slipped between his thighs and rolled down under his buttocks.

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