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Building To The Punchline June 13, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Joke, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
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28 comments

Andrew Stanton begins his TED talk with a joke about three men in a bar in the Scottish Highlands ~ a backpacking tourist, a bartender, and an old man.

He uses the joke as a tool to convey compelling storytelling:

* The old man engages the audience, drawing us into his world and revealing his character as he shares his tale with a strong Scottish brogue.

* He makes us care as he explains how he built the bar, constructed the stone wall out front, and installed planks on the pier . . . “with me bare hands.”

* The old man claims center stage with the sole speaking role, yet all three characters are necessary.  None is extraneous.  The tourist provides the reason for the telling of the tale.  The bartender’s presence establishes that the old man is not exaggerating.

* In the same way he crafted the bar, the stone wall, and the pier, the old man builds his story on a firm foundation, one piece at a time.  He keeps the finish line in mind.  He never veers off course.  He steers the story to its predetermined end.

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* He creates drama (“anticipation mingled with uncertainty”) as he decries the fact that he’s not called “MacGregor the Bar Builder” or”MacGregor the Stone Wall Builder” or “MacGregor the Pier Builder.”

Now he’s got us!

We’re curious.  We want to hear the end of the story.  We want to know what he IS called.  We are ready for the reveal . . .

* When he delivers the punch line, he doesn’t complete the sentence. He allows the thought to hang mid-air.  He doesn’t spell it out.  He doesn’t beat us over the head.  He doesn’t insult our intelligence.  He doesn’t reveal his actual nickname.

He allows us to follow the breadcrumbs and connect the dots.

He’s given us 2 + 2 and leaves it to the born problem solver in each of us to fill in the blanks and come up with the solution.

And we do.

Mickey-OKSince he constructed his tale with the same precision he used when building the bar, the stone wall, and the pier, we lay the last piece with confidence.

There’s no wiggle room.  We cannot misplace his meaning.

“Och, mon . . . ye must be MacGregor the Story Teller!”

Aah . . . that’s better!

First published: L. Marie’s Blog ~ The Stanton Effect: Building To The Punchline

A Quagmire of Obtuse Construction April 9, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
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66 comments

Sometimes wading through the written word is like getting sucked into an imbroglio of briars and quicksand.

Instead of building from Point A to Point B, certain writers circle around the point they are trying to express, using as many ostentatious, esoteric, and cumbersome words as possible.

Cautious readers must wear hip boots or waders to protect against muck, mire, and the occasional thorn. 

When I can’t follow a writer’s line of reasoning on a subject with which I am conversant, I assume the problem lies with the writer and not the reader.  :mrgreen:

Lest you accuse me of hubris, I followed the less than pellucid wanderings, wonderings, mutterings, and meanderings of Kant, Hume, Sartre, Descartes, and Socrates as a Philosophy major in college . . . without major mishap.

In law school, I studied and digested 75 page “briefs” of the United States Supreme Court . . . with only rare indigestion or stomach upset resulting from the effort.

Based on these experiences, it is my reasoned opinion that good writers, even those espousing philosophical musings, manage to convey complex ideology in a straightforward manner without resorting to obscure references and labyrinthine reasoning.

They bring readers into the fold, rather than leaving them out in the cold.

When writers obfuscate, that propensity may stem from a lack of mental clarity or acuity on their part.  Perhaps they haven’t yet grasped what it is they are attempting to say.

Even if that appears the most ostensible or plausible explanation, I try to be charitable and give them the benefit of the doubt.

After all, if we didn’t know what we wanted to say, would we say anything?

In some cases, I suspect that lack of clarity in sentence after ghastly sentence stems from a latent desire to confuse and mislead readers, by throwing them off the scent.

I know that seems counter-intuitive but watching readers scratch their heads or stall in their tracks may provide befuddled or bemused writers with an ego boost derived from delusions of adequacy.

Who knows?

* He who writes carelessly makes first and foremost the confession that he himself does not place any great value on his thoughts. For the enthusiasm which inspires the unflagging endurance necessary for discovering the clearest, most forceful and most attractive form of expressing our thoughts is begotten only by the conviction of their weightiness and truth – just as we employ silver or golden caskets only for sacred things or priceless works of art. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

* I have made this letter longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.  ~ Blaise Pascal

Aah . . . that’s better!

What about you?  Have you ever waded into a writer’s work and become lost in a quagmire of obtuse construction?  What did you do?

Did you beat a hasty retreat or wallow a while longer?

Related post:  Defending the Chamois (Silver in the Barn)

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder January 13, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Blogs & Blogging, Humor, Writing & Writers.
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82 comments

Tigger-BouncingAs some of you noticed and noted – thank you! – I have not been posting every day.

That trend may continue:

1.  I started SLTW, in part, to create a searchable database for notes and quotes gathering dust in files, notebooks, and journals.

After five years (and more than 2,500 posts), much of that backlog is now up and running.  Yay!

Tigger-Looking-At-His-Tail2.  Last year, I culled my draft folder from 80+ unfinished posts to a more manageable 17!  Yay!  I’m satisfied with that level of behind-the-scenes ballast.

3.  My mantra this year is “acceptance” and “let it be.”  I don’t feel like pushing myself to crank out “one a day” posts.

If it happens, it happens.  If it don’t, it don’t.

4.  For now, sharing my view of the world seems less compelling than using that time to play the guitar, stretch, exercise, meditate, create, cook, listen to music, eat chocolate, etc.

Tigger-Pogo5.  Posts on SLTW often flow from using thought-provoking and compelling posts on other blogs as springboards.

*BOING* . . . *BOING* . . . *BOING*

At the moment, the community offered by reading and commenting on other blogs seems sufficient.

6.  Instead of staying on the Post-A-Day treadmill, I’m (a) being lax, (b) cutting myself some slack, and (c) going with the flow.

7.  I want to post when I have something to say . . . not just because I want to say something.

Tiggers-R-UsAs I relax and let life unfold, I anticipate posting often enough that it won’t be a case of “out of sight, out of mind.”

I much prefer the adage, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Aah . . . that’s better!   

The Perfect Writer’s Retreat December 2, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Humor, Writing & Writers.
Tags: , , , ,
56 comments

While cruising around Terra Ceia Island, we stumbled across the perfect writer’s retreat.

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Situated on a corner lot, the house overlooks the banks of Terra Ceia Bay.

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Imagine writing at a desk in that turret, underneath the weathered vane.

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Gazing out at blue skies, serenaded by sea breezes and wandering muse.

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Of course, if we moved, we’d miss our neighbors . . . like Ichabod Ibis.

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As well as Ida, Iago, Irene, Igor, Igraine, Ike, Ignatius, Ian, and Icarus.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

An Unlimited Limerick November 12, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Poetry, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
Tags: , , , ,
36 comments

Something about the cadence and rhyme of limericks always teases a smile out of me.

I don’t mind a few made up words that stretch language to its limits.

There’s something fun about limericks
Especially those that boast gimmericks
They make us smile
And ponder awhile
On the sleight of tongue trickericks

Here’s to the liberal literary license of limericks!

After all, where would Dr. Seuss be
If he had limited his vocabulary
To words already written
Would we be as smitten
If it hadn’t called it a Truffula tree?

Aah . . . that’s better!

Do you enjoy limericks?  With sleight of tongue trickericks?  Are you a fan of the bawdier the better rhymes . . . featuring folks from Nantucket?

 

For NaNoWriMo ~ Two Top 7 Lists November 3, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
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36 comments

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Top 7 Reasons Writers Don’t Read More:

7. They are too busy writing, writing, madly writing.

6. Their reading skills are rusty.

5. They are feeding Tweets to Twitter every 5 minutes (WWPD => 2456).

4. They are bleeding from self-inflicted wounds.

3. They’re worn out from inviting Facebook friends to “check it out.”

2. They are lost in a maze of amazing words.

1. They are daydreaming about writing fame and fortune.

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Top 7 Reasons Writers Should Read More:

7. To take a break from writing, writing, madly writing.

6. To improve reading (and editing) skills.

5. To expand vocabulary and explore the amazing world of words.

4. To shift perspective and look through life via another lens.

3. To strengthen writing muscles by hearing other writers’ voices.

2. To imagine giving (and receiving) constructive criticism with panache.

1. Sheer enjoyment and escapism.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Do you read more than you write?  Or write more than you read?

A Spooktacular Contest October 10, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Fun & Games, Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
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26 comments

Snoopy-PumpkinSharpen your pencils, rev up your keyboards, check your typewriter ribbons!

It’s time for Susanna’s 4th Annual Halloweensie Contest.

In a pumpkin shell:

* 100 words (or less, no more)
* 3 required words ~> pumpkin, broomstick, creak
* prizes, prizes, prizes!!!

Post your story on your blog between 12:00 AM EDT Monday October 27th and Friday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list that will accompany Susanna’s October 27th post.

snoopy-&-linus-pumpkin-pathFor complete rules:  The 4th Annual Halloweensie Contest (Susanna Leonard Hill)

Tell her the Great Pumpkin sent ya!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Source: Mixon Fruit Farms

 

A Slytherin’ Successsssss September 29, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Writing & Writers.
Tags: , , , ,
42 comments

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Despite his eventual fame, Harry Potter did not find a publisher straight out of the gate.

Imagine if J.K. Rowling had given up on the idea when she received rejection after rejection:

* The world would never have met Dumbledore or Dobby the House Elf.

* Or wandered the corridors of Hogwarts or Diagon Alley.

* And none of us would know how to play Quidditch.

Rowling kept pitching her story until she found a publisher who saw in her stories what readers did ~ a spellbinding read.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money. ~ Jules Renard

Page Turner ~ A Mystery Thriller Contest September 25, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Fun & Games, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
Tags: , , ,
33 comments

Stephen King, who winters in Sarasota, agreed to speak in Manatee County on January 29, 2015, at a fundraiser for the Manatee Country Library System.

As one might expect, sponsorship tickets for the event zoomed out the door.

All but one.

The Library Foundation holds a ticket for the lucky winner of Page Turner ~ A Mystery Thriller Writing Contest.  Entrants are not restricted by age, but must possess a valid Manatee County Public Library card that is in good standing.

Since I do . . . I tossed my 250 words into the pool.

* * *

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Violet’s threat hung in the air.  She pointed a gun at me, placing more pressure on the trigger than I deemed prudent.

I scanned Hal’s living room, noting the crimson stain pooling around Hal’s body.  Violet meant business.  Some other scandal hound would get the scoop on Hal’s death, and mine, unless I helped her.

I gave Violet center stage.  Like a true diva, she dove in.

“Hal called this morning. He said he had some dirt on me and invited me over. When I arrived, he suggested we discuss the situation over a glass of wine . . . in the Jacuzzi. I refused. He got ugly. When I started to leave, he called you. After hanging up, he said, Sugar, when Ketchem publishes the photos I dug up on you, your career will be on permanent standstill. I knew I had no choice.”

Violet paused.  I glanced at Hal.

Seeing the trajectory of my eyes, she gasped.  “No! No! I know what you’re thinking, Sammy. I didn’t KILL him. I agreed to meet him in the Jacuzzi and went to get a towel. I heard a gunshot, raced back here, and found him like, like . . . that. I heard a noise behind me, grabbed the gun, and turned around. There was no one there. I panicked and started tearing the place apart to find the photos. Before I found them, I heard the doorbell and you walked in.”

I exhaled.

If Violet didn’t kill Hal, she didn’t need to kill me.

Aah . . . that’s better!

General tickets will go on sale Nov. 1 and can be purchased later this year through the Manatee Performing Arts Center box office and the Manatee Library Foundation website.

 

The Fluid Nature of Communication September 24, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Word Play, Writing & Writers.
Tags: , , , , ,
34 comments

What makes a word “real”?

Who decides whether “YOLO” is, in fact, a word?

Aah . . . that’s better!

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