A word, an idea, a thought… (DOG EAR)

A word, an idea, a thought… (DOG EAR)

There are two ways to string multiple words to make your point.

One is like this…

The tornado blew the house apart, throwing boots, a bathtub, books and the sofa all across the fields.

And the other is like this…

A tornado is a wind, a gust, a breeze, a blow.

See the difference? Read it again.

Both string a halting series of words behind it, to force the reader though a series of quick-start descriptions (perhaps for reasons of pacing and evidence). However, in the first, we are denoting the wide variety of objects scattered, their unique differences, trying to capture the clutter and randomness of the debris (it we are going for humor, unlikely items such as a hot water bottle or false teeth might be included). But still, these are all unique items.

In the second, they all describe the same thing. It forces the reader to refocus on what you are saying.

Perhaps there are reasons for the second method, if only to grab the reader by the ear and make him read your same meaning over and over. But really, I can’t think of a particularly good excuse for this. After all, you should be choosing words that make sense in their context, and forcing the reader through a grammar lesson for your writing shortcomings can’t be good for anyone. It’s a waste of time, it slows things down, and unless there is a clever point you are making, you shouldn’t do it.

Incidentally, I’ve heard this with authors in spoken interviews and it makes me grind my teeth. “I am left with a image of my own childhood,” a writer tells an NPR interviewer. “I moment, a thought, a picture…” That’s just self-service. It comes across as flighty and vapid. And perhaps, in the moment of the interview, one can be excused in speaking that way (since we all try to come across a thoughtful when talking (or blogging) about our craft). But writing is more deliberate. We should see this wasted ink for what it is, tighten our description, pick our best word and move on.

Otherwise, this is nothing more than stuttering with variety.