Writers: All You Need Is…

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Carrie De Simas

Editor in Chief @ GoneWithTheWord

What do words really mean? Think about it, each word has its own place in the written world, a separate function. But when it comes to the main thrust of it, the only words that really matter are the basic facts of the situation.

Thus, all we really need are nouns and verbs.

Nouns tell you the thing or person and the verb tells the action. That’s all you really need to tell a story.

Verbs and Nouns? That’s it? Yup.

Watch what I mean:

The cat crossed the street. 
[Noun, verb, noun.]

The whole story with its scintillating climax summed up with only nouns and a verb. These are the only words that matter because these are the only facts in the story. Every other part of the story isn’t fact, it’s perspective.

Watch again:

The fat, orange cat slowly crossed the road.
[Adjective, adjective, noun, adverb, verb, noun.]

Other than the nouns and verb, every other word is a reflection of the point of view of the beholder rather than a fact of the story.

Let’s break it down:

Fat. In our current culture, anything above a size six could be considered fat. Cellulite? Only for fat people. But wait, Marilyn Monroe is one of our culture’s ultimate sex symbols and it is said that she wore anywhere between a size 12 and 16. Other people only consider someone fat if they are obviously tipping the obese scales in terms of BMI. So, fat is only perspective.

Orange isn’t perspective though, right? I mean, color is color. Except that some people are color blind, or just outright blind. But not even taking it that far, if it is high noon and the sun is shining, orange might be brilliantly obvious. But if it’s midnight and there is minimal light available, everything is reduced to shades of grey, so we could not be sure of the color of a tuft of a fur. Thus, the color of the cat is about perspective too. Someone seeing the cat at noon in the summer might have a different idea of the hue of the fur than someone seeing the cat at night.

Slowly is also a judgment call. A slow-moving cat might seem wicked fast if you’re an ant. On the other hand, the cat who is waddling its extra ten pounds along might appear slow to his leaner and more nimble wildcat cousin.

All this is to say that at the end of the day, the only thing that matters in terms of story is the nouns and verbs. So when you’re summing up the plot of your book or white paper, keep it simple and save the juicy details for the pages of the manuscript instead.

The Beatles had it right. All you really need is love. Because love, after all, is both a noun and a verb.

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