It’s okay to tell it like it is

Photo of a sharpened pencil, next to pencil shavings and small, gray pencil sharpener

Saying concisely what you need to say is hard, especially when writing.

Trust in the story is essential.

So, how do we say what we need to say?

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

There are different ways to look at statements; 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 famous
  • 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 their thoughts, even if you don’t write them out.

As the writer, you 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 hard on him and he couldn’t emotionally handle it. He realized that he needed help, so he reached out to his friends and family members. He felt better after telling them what was bothering him. He sounded relieved when he told them how he felt.

Imagine his family and friends using the saying above to help him understand his feelings.

Maybe in their discussions, they said something he took away that helped his healing.

What were those words?

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

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