Writing Tip: Tell It Like It Is

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Use clear declarative sentences. This assertive statement was spoken by Don Corleone (played by Marlon Brando) in the movie The Godfather (1972).

It is not uncommon for women and other minority groups to add qualifiers to their statements. Such as ‘Parents need to stop organising every minute of their children’s spare time, don’t you think?’ ‘I loved that movie, didn’t you?’ In our sentence structure we look for reinforcement for our thoughts and opinions. We don’t always make declarative statements. ‘This is wonderful.’ ‘This is a catastrophe.’ We look for re-enforcement from others.

Another thing we do without realising it, is use indefinite modifiers in our speech:  perhaps, maybe, somehow. ‘Maybe I’ll take a trip somewhere.’ As if the speaker has no power to make a decision. ‘Perhaps it will change.’ Again, not a clear declarative sentence like, ‘Yes, nothing stays the same.’

It is important for us as writers to express ourselves in clear assertive sentences. ‘This is excellent.’ ‘It was a red dress.’ Not ‘The thing is, I know it sounds a bit vague, but I think maybe it was a red dress.’ Speaking in declarative sentences is a good rehearsal for trusting your own ideas, in standing up for yourself, for speaking out your truth.

When I write poetry I read through early drafts with a critical eye, taking out indefinite words and modifiers. I attempt to distill each moment to its essence by peeling off the layers until the heart of the poem is exposed. We need to take risks as writers and go deep within ourselves to find our unique voices and express ourselves with clarity.

Even if you are not 100% sure about your own opinions and thoughts write as if you are sure.  Dig deep. Be clear. Don’t be vague on the page. If you keep practicing this, you will eventually reveal your own deep knowing.

I hope this post is useful. Do you have any tips you would add? Let me know in the comments and please share this post with a friend if you enjoyed it. 

12 thoughts on “Writing Tip: Tell It Like It Is

  1. Great post. One of my pet peeves is the word ‘that’. It’s often written when it isn’t needed. For instance: ‘I understand that the situation was beyond your control.’ Get rid of the ‘that’, ‘I understand the situation was beyond your control,’ or ‘What was it that you were thinking?’, ‘What were you thinking?’

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for that 😂 Yes, one of the women in my weekly feedback group is right on to us when we use the word ‘that’. I must admit I sometimes find I want to use it. Thanks for reminding us about this mostly unnecessary word.

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  2. Great tip, Libby! I learned early on not to write as we speak…with all its pauses, umms and errrs. Also I try to keep down the he /she said … I do enjoy writing short snappy conversation that veers between two people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes, Annika, cutting out a lot of he/she saids is a good tip. also, sometimes adding a movement by a character is a good way to denote who is speaking rather than adding an attribution. as you say, when it’s only two people speaking you can cut between characters without adding a character name. thanks so much for your contribution.

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