3 Tips From The Writer’s Bible That Can Be Used In Conversation

3 Tips From The Writer’s Bible That Can Be Used In Conversation

If talking had a font, would your voice be serif or sans-serif?

When I think about how I got my start in writing and found my passion, my most vivid memory depicts my high school journalism teacher screaming “There is no excuse to use exclamation points!” at the frightened freshman class. He terrified me, but I became a better writer. Why? Because it’s difficult to forget something if it’s presented to you at a loud enough volume. I still use exclamation points, though.

After applying the style tips I’ve gathered throughout the years, I’ve found myself using them in conversations as well.

The concept of thinning out the fluff from a piece of writing is my favorite. We’ve all heard people go on for what seems like half an hour explaining something when it could have taken them half the time to do so. My go-to phrase when I experience this with fellow writers: “Elements of Style by Strunk & White. Omit needless words”. If you can condense your idea or story, do it. Give the reader or listener the instant gratification. More likely than not, they’ll get a better understanding what you’re trying to say this way.

This brings me to my next style tip for conversations: avoid using complex words or foreign languages. Writers use this for the same reason we think it’s best to use foreign languages. Just like the concept of “omit needless words”, the point is to make your message as clear as possible.

In high school, I had a teacher who thought he had a degree from Harvard, but reality told a different story. He used unnecessarily complicated words and vague phrases and never explained what they meant until it was time to complete an assignment. Is it just me, or is googling your teacher’s choice of words an interactive part of lectures these days? I couldn’t continue listening until I found out what he was talking about, and lost bits and pieces of the message.

When people use fancy words for no reason, I feel like Hemingway talking about Faulkner.

“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.”

If your audience isn’t bilingual, why say, “She was a bona fide expert in American history” when you can replace it with “genuine” or “respected?” Sure, you might sound smarter or like you have a master’s degree from an Ivy League school, but you risk the listener feeling uncomfortable and unable to keep up with the conversation if they’re not familiar with the term.

It’s like when you go to the doctor and they explain the problem, and then you have to say something along the lines of “So what exactly is wrong with me?” or, “Sorry, I don’t speak doctor.”, and then they dumb it down so you can actually take steps to get better. The average patient doesn’t have a medical degree and therefore doesn’t know all the jargon.

Finally, let’s talk about conversation length versus quality. As long as it holds together, a paragraph may be of any length — a single, short sentence or a passage of great duration. The same can be said for an idea or a conversation. There’s no standard for how big an idea has to be or how long the conversation must go on.

I could break the paragraph right here, for example.

Sometimes you have a quick thought that needs sharing. It’s perfectly fine to make the conversation short and sweet. Avoid the small talk if it’s going to cause you anxiety. After all, the fluff will distract from your main point. When speaking about something important, be short, sweet, and to the point.

“I enjoyed my time at the tea party, but not at the dinner.” Gives the same basic idea as “I savored my time at the early afternoon tea party, but the dinner portion of the party was certainly not as pleasant.”

We’re all communicators by nature, but sometimes we forget to embrace the comma, pause for a minute, and re-work our thoughts into words. There might not be an “Elements of Style” for life, but how we write about it is a pretty good place to start.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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Worthy of all Glory

giving God the praise He deserves

There has been a recurring theme in my spiritual life lately:

God's glory.

So many times, we call on God when we need something. Our prayers consist of "God please grant me X" or "Lord I really need Y".

Yes, God wants us to bring our needs to him, but He is so much more than the good gifts that He gives us. His gifts are just the surface of his goodness.

God deserves glory for who He is as a person.

As creator of the universe.

As the breath of life.

As giver of abundant, undeserving grace.

As just and holy

As all powerful and all knowing

There are so many attributes of God that deserve eternal praise.

In his model of prayer, Jesus asks that God's kingdom come to earth as it is in heaven. Imagine that. Everyone always praising God for who he is. Not always focusing on what God can give to us, but what we can praise Him for.

These glorious attributes can be seen all throughout our lives--

In the gift of music- His beauty and emotion are shown

In the essentials of food and water- His role as provider is made apparent

In the sunrise- His majesty and creativity are displayed

In the waves of the ocean- His infinite grace and mercy that continue to wash over us

In our next prayers, let's spend some time praising God and giving Him the glory he deserves.

Recognize Him for what he is worth rather than just a request granter.

"Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Matthew 6:10 ESV

"Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty" Psalm 104:1

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We Need To Stop Being So Scared To Talk About Faith

Ditch the fear and start talking.

From a young age, we are taught that there are certain things that you simply do not talk about: money, politics, and faith. In a time when tensions are high and patience is low, faith can be a tricky subject to address. The worry that someone will be offended is almost tangible, especially in a group setting. But is this societal norm really benefiting us? Is this hesitation truly serving us or is it preventing us from being able to understand something that 84% of the world's population holds close to them?

Stop backing away from conversations about other religions and start making a sincere effort to understand, you may be surprised at how much you learn.

Many people don't even question the fact that we are so often reminded not to bring up faith. But understanding why faith is such a taboo subject for our society is key to moving towards having an easy conversation about it. What are we so scared of? Contrary to popular belief, discussing faith does not equate to enforcing a religion onto someone.

There is often a preconceived notion (and a totally valid one) that simply bringing up the idea of religion is an effort to convert someone. But why does this make us so uncomfortable?

Perhaps because faith is so deeply personal, something that we cling to in times of fear, that it shouldn't dare to be shared out loud. The hesitation is understandable, but it is certainly not serving us. No one should feel obligated to preach their beliefs to each person they meet, but as a society, we should eradicate the idea that it is socially unacceptable to share these beliefs, especially with someone who doesn't share them.

This fear to offend someone with religious beliefs again comes from the idea that it is something confrontational. This negative connotation prevents us from seeing the world for what it really is. Learning as children that faith and religion are meant to be kept to ourselves doesn't prepare us for knowledgeable conversations later in life. Enforcing this view of faith is really another form of tunnel vision and sets us back rather than moving us forward.

Moving past this perception of faith is not easy, it takes time, patience, and a willingness to learn. Opening up to these conversations has the potential to bring an abundance of knowledge and understanding. Being unafraid to have differing views and simultaneously being willing to accept these views as someone else's personal perception allows us to have more meaningful and honest conversations. Speak to someone about their belief in Islam, read Buddhist text, and you will find that the best way to nurture spiritual knowledge is to expand it.

Note: Another interesting aspect of faith in America is the discussion about its presence in public schools. For further reading on this topic, go here.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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