Saturday, April 30, 2011

Writers: The future of "YES"


This past month, two of my closest friends tied the knot, and amidst the whirlwind of vibrant flowers, elegant dresses and flutes of champagne, I started thinking about the vows. Well, not actually the vows themselves, but the traditional response to them: “I do.”

Out of the copious ways to say “yes,” why is it most couples say “I do”? I understand saying I do answers the question, “Do you take…,” but I think what bothers me most is that several of my friends — my husband included — sounded…funny saying it.

It didn’t fit their personalities.

What are we waiting for? or Hell, yes! or Let’s do it may have been a more fitting answer. My husband tells me he would’ve responded, “What do we have to lose?” or “F— yeah, bitch!” (The latter for shock factor, of course, which tells you oodles about his character.)

THE SAME AS WITH YOUR FICTION.

The way a character pronounces avowals can add dimension and personality to him/her. For example, the word affirmative in many cases can imply a more commanding and authoritative quality whereas alrighty and totally are words a younger, bubbly character may use.

Many times, yes, sure or certainly can be omitted altogether or replaced with more stimulating dialogue which will move the characters’ conversation (and ultimately the plotline) faster along. For instance, if I had two characters chatting about what movie to see it might sound something like:

ALEX: Why not see Zombie World? You like zombies, right?
LISA: Yes, but I like mermaids better and Angelina Jolie plays a kick ass one.

In this case, “Yes, but” falls into the category of Unnecessary Words. Now try the same conversation without them. Improved, right?  Sometimes, though, affirmations feel necessary but can easily be replaced with something more creative: my thoughts exactly; I was born for it; aye, aye, sir.

Writers: I challenge you to go through your current work in progress and find a few yeahs, of courses and okays to change or omit. Did you notice a difference? Did the dialogue seem tighter?

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