Posts Tagged ‘Cleopatra’

Dare to Tell Small Stories to Generate Large Emotions

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

In his new book, noted author William Zinzer offers sage advice to aspiring writers: “Dare to tell the smallest of stories if you want to generate large emotions.” This advice literally cuts to the heart of the matter; the stories that reach people on a personal level are the ones that touch the heart. Zinzer’s own focus is on writing about “people whose values I respect.” As he explains, “My pleasure is to bear witness to their lives.”

Another subject covered in a recent review of Zinzer’s latest book, The Writer Who Stayed, is his dismay over widespread abuse of the English language. I couldn’t agree more. Author of a classic text on writing, he bemoans the use of terms such as “reading experiences” when referring to articles and “content management systems” for article collections.

My favorite is his critique of the word “relationship,” which he rightly points out can mean whatever someone wants it to mean. “Relationship” certainly never appeared in classic literature about famous lovers. Romeo and Juliet were not described as being “in a relationship”; neither were Tristan and Isolde or Antony and Cleopatra. Further, “relationship” doesn’t work well in a song. Imagine, Zinzer says, Cole Porter writing, “Let’s do it, let’s have a relationship.”

Does such non-specific language bother you? Let us know what you think. Or, if you like, tell us a small story.