I’m in the market for a new wallet, and today I spotted what I thought was a gorgeous one. Crushed turquoise velvet, perfect size and shape, a window for my driver’s license. And then I flipped it over.
On the other side were a line of tiny lavender pompoms, several lines of other colored felt strips of varying widths and, along the bottom, a line of silvery sequined stuff that I think somehow got separated from its marching band hat.
I grimaced, set the wallet back on the shelf and thought, why’d they have to go and muck it up with all of that frou frou?
Which made me think of writing. My writing and yours. And that my internal reaction to the wallet is actually a great revision question.
I know many of we writer creatures love the frou frou, because the frou frou is, after all, words. And we love our words. I remember vocabulary growth spurts in high school and college and how much I enjoyed putting as many forthcomings and insomuchases and aformentioneds as possible into my papers. If I don’t watch it, I can still frou frou with the best of them, but mostly, I watch it. Despite the personal joy in waxing eloquent, it doesn’t make for good reading. Great for journaling, not so great for sharing.
Good reading comes from good writing. Just the crushed velvet. No additional bedazzling necessary. When you’ve got one or two or maybe even three simple and beautiful materials, let them stand on their own.
So I ask you this: what piece of writing might you revisit today, and what kind of frou frou could you remove? Extra adjectives? Unnecessary backstory? An elaborate and impassioned description of a kleenex box cozy?
Get that stuff out of the way, so the clear strength and beauty of your voice and your story can stand alone.
Think of it as strip poker for your writing. The more you take off, the more exciting it gets.