I am doing my best to make this email sound adult. I have rewritten it sixteen, wait… seventeen, times. I am requesting assistance.
- Always say yes to seeing friends
- Eat breakfast every day
- Recognize that positive change rarely happens overnight
- Accept the fuck-ups, but try not to let them happen again
- There is a song to remedy every situation on the planet
- Appreciate the people in your life
- Look for the good in everything
- Try new things and try them often
- Treat yourself as well as you treat others
Be careful what you tell your daughter. Take care with the words you lend to her ear.
Imagine your voice as the thunder on a summer evening, moments before she leaves to see her friends. Your diction is either lightning, striking down on her youth, or the familiar rumble of summer cloud cover. Your parting words will come as a rainstorm or a blanket of deep blue-gray warmth against the breeze of nighttime.
Be careful what you tell your daughter. At the dinner table, she should open up to you, her stories should bubble up and out to glide softly into your heart. Listen, empathize, empower. Do not spell “why did you let him do that?” in her alphabet soup when it’s not her motives that must be questioned.
Be sure your hands conjure a force, a tornado raised from the ashes of sacrificed women before her. Instill within her the majesty of a queen, who loves her kingdom, will sacrifice for her kingdom and will lay down her pride for her kingdom.
To teach your daughter how to walk down the street and turn every head in awe is the goal. You must build her up, not break her down with the stigmas that she is but an instrument of beauty.
Your daughter is not just beautiful. She is bold, she is human, she is graceful, she is intelligent and she is the unforgettable whirlwind of charm that leaves behind strands of hair like tokens for all who will praise her.
Do not teach your daughter that she’s capable of anything less than the distance to the moon. Your daughter is not a mother; do not treat her as one. Tell her every day that until she dies that she still has time. Tell her that until her parting breath. She has the same amount of potential in her pen, in her ballet slipper, in her tennis shoe or in her theories as the universe has energy.
Never limit your daughter to merely a role in the kitchen, a role as a victim or a role as a supporting part. Your daughter is the hero, your daughter is the antagonist, and your daughter is the author.
Be careful what you tell your son. Do not replace his tears with daggers. Do not teach him the flaws of the past. His gender and skin color do not define his power.
Remind your son that he’s made of atoms that once composed the silken petals of roses. That the definition in his biceps is for raising people up, not striking them down. Be cautious that you are not the third Little Pig; do not build your son with stone.
Never justify your son’s mistakes with “boys will be boys” because boys will be foolish, boys will be heart broken, boys will be warriors, boys will be nurses, but boys will never just be boys.
Do not teach your son to be a puzzle piece, that he belongs somewhere. Teach your son to be a beacon. Teach your son to be a leader, to be an individual.
Encourage him to watch scary movies. Encourage him to be afraid. Encourage him to be bold enough to check under his bed for monsters. Teach him that fear isn’t meant to be hidden, teach him that fear is meant to be faced, and at no time does shame marry the feeling of terror. Teach your son that he is every color of the sunset; he is the pink blush of gentility, he is the rich gold of success and he is the vivid orange of creativity.
Be careful what you tell your son. Tell him that he has every right to be a man and a stay-at-home father, a choreographer or a fashion designer. Your son was not born to be just A Man. He was born to be himself.
Be careful what you tell the heir to your throne. Be kind and thoughtful in the messages you convey to the flowers you grow. Do not define the limits they will reach. Do not confine the limits they will reach. Do not intervene with heights they will reach.
Be careful what you tell your daughter, be careful what you tell your son, and be careful that you don’t limit their access or love of this kingdom under the sun.Chloe Allyn (for the Appleton Post Crescent)
Don’t shame the girls who sent pictures of themselves half-naked to their significant others as a way to express eroticism which is healthy and natural… give the people hell who think it’s okay to destroy someone’s trust and distribute those images simply for entertainment purposes.
Say it again. I don’t think they got it the first time. Too much truth.
my best friend just realized 30 minutes before her curfew that she’s an hour away from home in the most dangerous part of the city alone with the buses no longer running so she calls the police to take her home i cant stop laughing
update the cop that came to pick her up is a hot 20 year old guy thats flirting with her and now im not laughing anymore
SHE FUCKING HOOKED UP WITH THE COP
We have added definitions of each word and an example sentence. Also, we have omitted hinted and insinuated, as we agree with fellow writers’ suggestions that they are not suitable additions to the list.
Instead of whispered, consider:
- murmured: A soft, indistinct sound made by a person or group of people speaking quietly or at a distance: "Don’t go," he murmured, grabbing her hand as she turned to leave.
- mumbled: Say something indistinctly and quietly, making it difficult for others to hear:"Thanks a lot," he mumbled sarcastically.
- muttered: Say something in a low or barely audible voice, esp. in dissatisfaction or irritation: She muttered to herself all the way down the hall, reciting all her usual complaints.
- breathed: Say something in a quiet voice or whisper: "I love you," she breathed, her eyes full of tears.
- sighed: Emit a long, deep, audible breath expressing sadness, relief, or tiredness; say something in a low or barely audible voice, esp. in sadness or irritation; to say exasperatedly, or all in one breath: "Right," he sighed. “Well, just don’t do anything too stupid.”
- hissed: To utter with a hiss, esp. in instances that include one or more sharp sibilant sounds, as of the letter s: "Just stop," she hissed, her grip on Lisa’s arm tightening.
- mouthed: To form (a word, sound, etc.) with the lips without actually making an utterance: "The baby’s asleep," she mouthed, leading her parents back into the living room.
- uttered: To give audible expression to; speak or pronounce: He uttered a string of barely audible insults.
- intoned: Say or recite with little rise and fall of the pitch of the voice: "I’m not going anywhere," she intoned. He could tell she was exhausted by the pitchless quality of her voice.
- susurrated: (susurration) The indistinct sound of people whispering: The room hummed with the soft susurrus of conversation.
- purred: To utter a low, continuous, murmuring sound expressive of contentment or pleasure, as a cat does: "I know you want me," she purred into his neck, trailing kisses across his collar bone.
- said in an undertone: To speak in a low or subdued tone: "Not now, Jessee," he said in an undertone.
- gasped: Say (something) while catching one’s breath, esp. as a result of strong emotion: She could hardly gasp out an apology.
- said low: (slang) Say something in a quiet voice or whisper: "Plants are more like us than you think," he said low, as if he spoke to the lilies themselves.
- said into [someone’s] ear: Say something in a quiet voice or whisper, esp. near the listener’s ear, in such a way that only they may hear: "Meet me in the parlor," he said into Jane’s ear, and her heart betrayed her with a flutter of excitement.
- said softly: Say something in a quiet voice or whisper: "I’m here now," Usula said softly, brushing a lock of hair from her cheek.
- said under [one’s] breath: (idiom) Say something in a muted voice or whisper: "Over my dead body," Jacob said under his breath.
- said in a hushed tone/in hushed tones: (idiom) Say something in a softened tone, or in a quiet voice or whisper: "Will he make it, Doctor?" Kendraasked in a hushed tone.
Thank you to everyone who reblogged this list to add their opinion. We have, with their permission, included some of these opinions so that you may benefit from their perspective.
memattbe adds: Whispered is the simplest and conveys what you mean by a whisper the best. Maybe murmured would be a good substitute if you just used whispered. Muttered, sighed, hissed, gasped, mouthed, purred, breathed, mumbled all mean things noticeably different than whisper. The said… ones aren’t bad, but one word is better than four.
ankh-the-odd adds:Also, don’t use alternate words for said.
It’s not boring, people’s eyes will just move right over the word said. If you use something else, you draw attention to it, and it messes up the flow of the text completely. You come to the end a bit of dialogue and then think “Woah okay what just happened.” It looks really unprofessional, tbh.
mumblingsage adds: I’ll just add that it’s always good to know a lot of not-quite-alternative words in case you ever think a character whispered, only to find out that they actually were murmuring it. The point is precision.
Or sometimes to avoid repeating words, but in that case you probably shouldn’t have a character performing the same action multiple times in a few paragraphs, or at least from continuing to remind the reader they’re doing it (if you state that a character is whispering, the reader will assume they continue whispering throughout the scene, until told otherwise).
And, um, if you thought your character was whispering and they’re actually susurrating…you might want to get that checked out.
There was another truly wonderful criticism of this list that is quite long, so we are including it in a Read More. Click below to see bobbyisrightthereyaidjit's critique.
In six seconds, you’ll hate me.
But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.
From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.
The list should also include: Loves and Hates.
And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.
Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”
Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The
mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”
Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader wants it.
Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.” You’ll have to say: “Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he’d go to open it. She’s roll her eyes and shove off with one foot, leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her butt. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”
In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.
Typically, writers use these “thought” verbs at the beginning of a paragraph (In this form, you can call them “Thesis Statements” and I’ll rail against those, later). In a way, they state the intention of the paragraph. And what follows, illustrates them.
“Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline. was backed up from the bridge, past the first eight or nine exits. Her cell phone battery was dead. At home, the dogs would need to go out, or there would be a mess to clean up. Plus, she’d promised to water the plants for her neighbor…”
Do you see how the opening “thesis statement” steals the thunder of what follows? Don’t do it.
If nothing else, cut the opening sentence and place it after all the others. Better yet, transplant it and change it to: Brenda would never make the deadline.
Thinking is abstract. Knowing and believing are intangible. Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing. And loving and hating.
Don’t tell your reader: “Lisa hated Tom.”
Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.
Present each piece of evidence. For example: “During roll call, in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout ‘Butt Wipe,’ just as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”
One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing, you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.
For example: Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take…”
A better break-down might be: “The schedule said the bus would come by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57. You could see all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus. No doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the line, taking a nap. The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was going to be late. Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic accident…”
A character alone must lapse into fantasy or memory, but even then you can’t use “thought” verbs or any of their abstract relatives.
Oh, and you can just forget about using the verbs forget and remember.
No more transitions such as: “Wanda remembered how Nelson used to brush her hair.”
Instead: “Back in their sophomore year, Nelson used to brush her hair with smooth, long strokes of his hand.”
Again, Un-pack. Don’t take short-cuts.
Better yet, get your character with another character, fast.
Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and words show their thoughts. You—stay out of their heads.
And while you’re avoiding “thought” verbs, be very wary about using the bland verbs “is” and “have.”
“Ann’s eyes are blue.”
“Ann has blue eyes.”
“Ann coughed and waved one hand past her face, clearing the cigarette smoke from her eyes, blue eyes, before she smiled…”
Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.
And forever after, once you’ve learned to Un-pack your characters, you’ll hate the lazy writer who settles for: “Jim sat beside the telephone, wondering why Amanda didn’t call.”
Please. For now, hate me all you want, but don’t use thought verbs. After Christmas, go crazy, but I’d bet money you won’t.
For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every “thought” verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by Un-packing it.
Then, pick through some published fiction and do the same thing. Be ruthless.
“Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”
“Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”
“Larry knew he was a dead man…”
Find them. After that, find a way to re-write them. Make them stronger.
I need to go back to school.