Say What You Need to Say

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Saying what you need to say in a concise way is hard, especially when you’re writing. Trust in the story is absolutely essential. So, how do we say what we need to say?

  • Do we confront how we feel, or do we wait until we’re too tired to speak up?
  • Do we confront it for now, or do we let it go and hope that it’s okay?

There are different ways to look at statements, and this list will tell you what to call them.

  • Adage: aphorism with credibility due to language
  • Aphorism: concise definition
  • Apothegm: edgy, cynical aphorism
  • Bromide: insincere phrase or platitude, implying a lack of originality
  • Cliché: commonplace, trite saying
  • Epigram: a poetic form of a comment on a person/idea/occurrence
  • Epithet: descriptive word or phrase that becomes popular
  • Gnome: compact instruction
  • Idiom: an expression whose meaning can’t be denied by hearing it
  • Mantra: religious or mystical syllable or poetic phrase
  • Maxim: wise principle or rule
  • Motto: concise expression of motivation
  • Platitude: flat, insipid, trite, weak remark
  • Proverb: practical truth or wisdom
  • Quip: witty or funny observation
  • Saw: commonplace, longstanding, trite
  • Witticism: smart, notable for form or style than content

Your characters want to find ways to summarize what they’re thinking, even if you don’t write it out.

You – as the writer – need to say what you need to say to someone who can’t hear you. You’re communicating from afar, to your reader, to your character, to anyone who interacts with your work.

Think about the following paragraphs as a prompt:

He was recently separated from his wife. The divorce was very hard on him and he couldn’t emotionally handle it. He finally realized that he needed help, so he reached out to his friends and family members. He finally felt better after telling them what was bothering him. He sounded relieved when he finally told them how he really felt.

Imagine his family and friends using a saying from above to help him come to terms with his feelings. Maybe in their discussions, they said something that he took away that helped with his healing.

What were those words?

They don’t have to end up in your manuscript but having it as part of your “off-screen” character development can be a powerful exercise.

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Guilliean Pacheco (she/her) is a writer and editor of color, but you may also know her as the host of the Raconteuse Radio podcast. Her work has appeared in Nevada Humanities and Helen. She has an M.F.A. in Writing from the University of San Francisco. She’s a misplaced California girl who lives in Las Vegas normally if one could call living there normal. Follow her on Twitter.

Use Your Words