To be understood, don’t mince words

As writers, sometimes we try to think of the most eloquent way to convey a message. Sometimes, the most direct way is the best way.

I was at the supermarket with a friend who was a college English instructor. He was a person who usually spoke as though he taught English. He wanted to buy a freshly grilled chicken from the meat department. There were no foil bags on hand to keep the chicken warm. My friend asked the butcher, “Ain’t ya’ got no bags for these here chickens?”

The butcher grabbed a handful of foil-covered sacks and said, “Oh, sorry, we ran out. Here,” and he slipped the chicken into the foil bag and sealed it.

I said to my friend, “Ain’t ya’ got no bags?”

He shrugged and said, “I wanted attention. I got what I wanted.”

Creative verbation

As fiction writers, we eavesdrop. How can you write dialogue if you don’t listen to the voices around you?

Sometimes the thought is there, but the word isn’t quite right. I heard a fellow traveler once say to her husband in a tone of desperation, “I came all this way with you and you don’t considerate me.” “Considerate” is an adjective. She was using it as a verb. To this day, we use the made-up verb “to considerate” to mean “to take my needs and desires into consideration.”