Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yellow Sticky -- Flow

I discussed flow in my Jan 7 posting. Here are two follow-up yellow stickies that summarize the posting.


  1. Hi Mac,
    I love these stickies. They're so true. My two mentors told me this. Choose your verbs, adjectives wisely so that they move the story along. ;)
    Say "hi" to Molly!

  2. That's so true. Good reminder.

  3. Uber writing economy squeezes tone, chops the pace and turns style into mush. Writing in a journalistic style, “just the facts, ma’am”, targets understanding but ignores the martini of the meaning. (It’s OK not to understand that phase, criticize it as vague, superfluous, etc. It’s there to make you think what could be its meaning.)

    The verbs and nouns carry the story, no argument. Going down some dead-end storyline distracts the reader. Extra stuff is often superfluous. But sometimes extra means EXTRA.

    I have a long-time business acquaintance, very professional, smart, attractive, etc. Some months ago I learned in her youth that she performed an underwater mermaid act at a local amusement park. Some how envisioning her in that sleek costume, holding her breath for a minute or more at a time, “dancing underwater”, changed my impression of her forever. I have many business acquaintances; none of them were mermaids.

    This new “fact” has no effect on the “story” of our business relationship, doesn’t further that relationship, has nothing to do with that relationship. It does offer a different perspective, enriches my knowledge of her, and deepens my appreciation of her as a person. It’s a nice thought to have. That’s it. And I have that thought every time we do business.

    If your words, constructs, characters, story line, etc. are not memorable, you and your writing will be forgotten. “See Jane run” won’t make it memorable. What’s in Jane’s purse will.

  4. John

    I appreciate your comment. You always have ideas that provoke thought; however I'm not sure your treatise contradicts the intent of my stickies. I have no argument with anything you said. Think of the two key words: (1) flow; (2) meaningful. I'm certainly not saying a description building a character is inappropriate. The fact a character was once a mermaid, I think, would be very meaningful, depending upon the setting.

    There is a broad view and a micro view of every narrative. I suggest my stickies need to be considered at the sentence, not tone-level of a narrative.

    If your character is trying to find a murder weapon in a cluttered garage, it might not be particularly helpful for the story narrator to interrupt the action with a description of his co-worker's past profession. But it might absolutely be meaningful if the author is attempting to show the character is distracted, or obsessively in love.

    Thanks for stopping bye. ;O) -- Mac