It's that time of year, folks. Halloween's nearly flown with the bats, Thanksgiving approaches, and Christmas is on its way, and I'm thinking back to the days of Ronco. That's how we knew Christmas was getting close, with Ronco ads. That and the Sears Christmas Wish Book.
Ah, the good old Wish Book. I remember sitting in the middle of the floor with it spread open in front of me, pencil armed and ready, as I'd peruse the toy section, carefully studying each treasure, then circling it.
But I think of all the Christmas signposts, it's the Ronco ads that remain my favorites. The Veg-O-Matic: "It slices! It dices! It julienne fries!" And here's the thing. First off, I had no clue what the announcer meant when he said it "julienne fried", nor did I really care. The slicing and dicing part was cool enough ('course, when we bought one I just about sliced the tip of my little finger off, but that's another story). And thinking back, I don't know if he said "julienne fries" or "juliennes fries", but I do know, now, that when you julienne something, whether it be fries or whatever, it means to cut it into long, thin strips, like a matchstick. A moot point, however, as I would put that under the slicing category, but it just doesn't sound the same when you say "It slices! It dices!" Needs something else, and that's when, I believe, they threw in the julienne part.
Isn't that what we have to do with our writing sometimes, too? We could just shorten a sentence to make it punchy, but sometimes when we read it aloud to ourselves it sounds like we're missing a beat, so we have to add something else in there--another word, or short phrase--to give it the rhythm it needs. It ain't always about just getting the words down there. We're painters with our words, musicians, and there's a pattern to what we do.
Think about the phrase "But wait, there's more..." That's a cliffhanger. We're waiting now, because they told us there'd be more. More what, we wonder. No idea, but we want to find out what's next. That's what we do when we want our work to be a page-turner. We hold that carrot out there, lingering, so our readers will keep on doing what our readers are supposed to do.
With that in mind, stay tuned for the next installment...
Keep writing, friends.