Say What You Need to Say

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

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


I’ll tell you why revision is the best part of writing in your complimentary 15-minute consultation.

Guilliean Pacheco, your friendly neighborhood creativity concierge

http://writeropolis.start.page

Guilliean Pacheco (she/her) is a writer and editor of Filipino heritage and the host of the City of Writers podcast. Her work has appeared in TechTarget, Nevada Humanities, and Helen: A Literary Magazine. She has an M.F.A. in Writing from the University of San Francisco and is an Anaphora Arts poetry fellow. She’s a misplaced California girl who lives in Las Vegas normally, if one could call living there normal, on Southern Paiute land. Follow her on Twitter.

Use Your Words