Posts from the ‘writing’ Category

What is true?

I never said he stole money.

Well, the truth of the matter is, “I NEVER said he stole money.”

No, wait, I meant, “I never SAID he stole money.”

But really, I said, “I never said HE stole money.”

And so on.

Changing the word that gets the emphasis, the meaning of the sentence changes. It can change six times.

What did the person hearing it perceive? Perception is reality.

Suppose the hearer was a reporter with a bias against whomever said it. How would it be reported?Fake News

Before publishing their story, would the reporter have taken the time to investigate what happened to cause the subject to use the above six words?

If you’re old enough to remember Watergate, you remember Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post would not publish anything Woodward and Bernstein wrote without two corroborating sources.

Now, suppose you heard someone of importance use the above six words with NO emphasis on any particular one.

And suppose you had a personal bias against the “he” who may have stolen. We all hear what we want or expect to hear. Those six words would delight our senses and confirm our suspicions.

What is the truth?Truth

Can reality be relative to the perceptions of the hearer?

What about the speaker?

Whom do you trust to tell you the truth?

Recently I shared an item on Facebook from a friend. It was a link to a website and featured a headline expressing surprise that in light of what appears to be a popular tax cut, the opposing party announced plans to tout a tax increase in their efforts to gain influence in  congress in the 2018 midterms. It quickly provoked a comment from a real life friend of mine questioning the source. I asked why that would be important if the information turned out to be true?

To be fair, it has been my contention for over sixty years that all news outlets and media are biased. As polarized as the country is now, it’s hard to find a middle of the road source of information (notice I avoided the word, “news?”)

If you listen to or read readily available (notice I didn’t say “main stream?) information, you can rely on two things:

  1. It will be biased.
  2. Regardless of the bias, it will conform to the age old motto of news media, “Never let the truth interfere with a good story.”

Good stories sell.

Choose your poison.

Are we any closer to the truth?

In court, it’s long been commonly accepted that eyewitness accounts are unreliable.  When there are more than two, they seldom agree. Now, with the advances in video technology, is video tape trustworthy? I recently heard even the Zapruder film had been altered.

Can we trust online fact checkers?

My friends on the left like Snopes while my friends on the right prefer FactCheck. They both cite major funding sources as their reason not to trust.

What about a situation in which someone you trust throws you a curve? An old friend sent out and email to his list of friends.  I quickly identified it as a joke. It was masquerading as a newspaper article. Some recipients thought it was factual and replied with concerns for a professional who had supposedly been caught in a dalliance with a patient. He reports to his own amazement about half of the recipients thought it factual–despite the inherent absurdity.

Is the truth relative?

I’ve always appreciated the axiom that “perception is reality.” If how we perceive information is in fact what we interpret as truth, then whether or not something is in fact true, is like beauty.

It’s in the eye of the beholder–no matter the source.

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[NOTE: Special thanks to my good friend Art Hoffman for suggesting this topic.]

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Hard Words

The Book of Hard Words – Read it, See it, Know it, Use it. by David Bramwell

It’s hard to remember now, years later, what I was doing.

A series of loud bumps on the front door signaled the arrival of a visitor.

On my way to the door, I noticed through a side window that it was my neighbor’s son.

Dad was waiting several steps back at the sidewalk by the street.

The kid continued to pound on the door and as it began to open, he shouted, “Open up! You gotta buy something!”

The Ernest Hemingway approach to sales.

Simple.41o078qvm8l-_sy344_bo1204203200_

No frills.

Minimalist.

I bought whatever it was he was selling.

A Hemingway detractor, William Faulkner, once complained that Papa “…has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”

In a little over fifty-five years of reading, I’ve been motivated to look up many words in dictionaries while reading. One thing’s for sure, though, I never put down a “page-turner” and interrupted a captivating story to study vocabulary.

On the other hand, learning new words and making an effort to use them has always been of interest. A well-read person should have a deep vocabulary — shouldn’t they?

It stands to reason.

This seemingly worthwhile pursuit has on occasion caused me some grief. In conversation or informal writing, if the listener doesn’t know what you’re talking about, then you have to explain it. The requirement of stopping and explaining word usage takes a lot away from the original intent of the message. It also leaves the impression that you might be a bit “snooty.”

“Don’t come around here using no five dollar words on me!” was a warning I didn’t want to hear very often. It does, now, in retrospect, cause me to wonder, ‘How much is a hard word worth today?”  Hmmm…

Whatever they’re worth, David Bramwell has got 112 for you for just over ten dollars in his book, The Book of Hard Words – Read it, See it, Know it, Use it.

Bramwell makes it easy to learn about the words in his book. An entire page is dedicated to each word complete with illustrations, pronunciation guide, sample usages, etymology and genealogy. The layout includes three sections titled, “Hard,” “Harder,” and of course, “Hardest.” The author acknowledges that this is not intended to be a complete compendium because, for example, one reader may consider a given word as being hard and another would not, from previous experience.  In my own case, it was a pleasant surprise to scan down the list of words and find many with which I was familiar.  Some of them, I use every day.

Back in my direct sales days, when I lived in Louisiana, it was advisable to write marketing pieces and especially letters on an eighth grade reading level. That was thirty years ago. It would not surprise me at all to discover that writing for any demographic today would benefit with that same advice. An author friend of mine received the following comment in a review of one of his books: “Only 7 percent of the population is going to understand several of the words the author uses.” In my own case, I would be thrilled if seven percent of the population owned a copy of one of my books, but is that what an author wants to do in attempts to sell more books?  I don’t think Hemingway had that problem, but I’m certain that Faulkner did.

Authors who have a word that might be considered difficult by some can take inspiration from the late William Safire, New York Times wordsmith-in-residence. In several of his books, he would use the device of having a character use a “hard” word in conversation. During that conversation, he or she would discuss that word and how it had been used. Another viable option for today’s writers — write a blog about it.

That would be mellifluous!

Management NewSpeak–Orwell was Right (or “How I learned to speak in tongues at work.”)

The Excerpt:    Newspeak-1

Some of my friends consider me to be an anachronism. In  some ways, they’re correct.  In many ways, I’m stuck in the sixties. Some of my mannerisms and behavior from the past  have  carried over into the new century.

I don’t like the new age management jargon that has become prevalent in the last ten years. I prefer the old way of talking.

It was clear.

It was direct.

It wasn’t concerned about being politically correct.

[Some of my author friends may encounter this in their dealings with corporate types.]

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The Back Story:

After the above excerpt, which sets up the blog pretty well, I believe, the article continues with some examples of the language that to me, is anathema. (That’s a big word I learned from a bona fide genius.)

Moving forward, reach out to me and we’ll dialogue about this and I’m sure you’ll be come a champion of the better way of talking with lots of takeaways from the entire blog, which can be found HERE.

Got some words for us? (8-10 sentences)

Join us here at Weekend Writing Warriors.The  same link will take you to the work of dozens of talented writers. For a treat, please check out their work, too.

Many of the contributors to Weekend Writing Warriors alsoSundaySnip

participate in the Snippet Sunday group on FaceBook.

“Backwards” writing turns me off

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The Eight Sentences:

Sentence structure is a matter of style–every writer has his/her own–and no one is required to like it.

Frequency of use and the authors’ reputations don’t guarantee a pleasurable read.

If you do like a particular author’s style, it stands to reason, you’ll read more of their work.

Does annoying sentence construction take you out of the story?Hat-2-sml

Many of the examples of backward writing that I find most annoying include adverbs and “ing” verbs, both of which only serve to add to my displeasure. Some folks think this style of writing and sentence construction is fine. Apparently, it’s preferred in English class themes. My editor agrees with me in that it has no place in novels where active writing works better.

Where did that come from?

I recently wrote a blog about one of my pet peeves in writing (I only have about 5,280 pet peeves). My intention was to speak from a reader’s point of view. Every reader has her/his own preferences as do editors and authors. I claim no authority to speak from a position of wisdom on this subject, but I do know what I like and dislike as a reader. The entire article can be found HERE.

Share your own EIGHT with us!

oin us here at Weekend Writing Warriors.The  same link will take you to the work of dozens of talented writers. For a treat, please check out their work, too.

Many of the contributors to Weekend Writing Warriors alsoSundaySnip

participate in the Snippet Sunday group on Facebook.

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