Hey, Friends! This week we've been talking about things I've learned from P90x. Pray for me--today is Yoga X!
So, there are some things Tony does to annoy me. Some of his jokes really aren't funny. He calls the people behind him "kids". But I like how he tells me it's okay if I can't do everything they do. He says, "Do your best and forget the rest". I can do that, because the people behind him must be superhuman. For the most part I appreciate his job teaching me and talking me through the workout.
There is one thing that trips me up every video. He says the name of each move, which is great. But sometimes those names are massive. We're talking 5+ words. It just sounds difficult because it takes so long to say. So when he says the name of a move, I'm left trying to decipher the meaning of the words he just said and miss the beginning of the exercise. You know why? Too many words.
We can overdo this. I had a teacher in college so intent on cutting my essays that they bored me--even if they were on interesting topics. She cut so many words that only meat was left, no "potatoes". Have you ever tried to eat a meal of pure meat? You need the other stuff. But it's like Brad Pitt's character tells Matt Damon's in Ocean's Eleven: "Don't say eight words when four will do". (Or something like that--is it six? Anywho, you get the point).
I struggle with being wordy. I was reminded of that again when I edited my novel last fall. And I seem to like compound words. We use word pictures in the South and I find them randomly slipping into my speech. For instance, I have a friend who says "church house" and "boss lady". There are places where it works great. But there are others where we need to cut the fat. If we choose the right word, we won't need the phrase. The word itself will pack such a punch that it'll be more than enough. It won't need qualifiers or description. Passive verbs are a huge waste of words. So are complex verb phrases (where it takes more than one or two words to complete the action). Linking "to be" verbs add bulk too. Adverbs (NO! Not adverbs!) mean a verb needs a qualifier.
Don't cut all the potatoes (oh, I love potatoes!). Don't be like that professor with her meaty essays. We want a delicious story, one we can savor with every page. Just lose the unnecessary ones. Make your words speak for themselves--and leave the rest of us captivated. It's not that less is more--it's that better is more.
How do you "cut the fat" in your novels?
See y'all Monday!
3 hours ago