One Ring To Rule Them All – edited (Weekly Writing Challenge)

YO MR. WHITE! AND MR. STRUNK!

The infamous Strunk and White, purveyors of compositional advice, implore us to omit needless words in our writing. American author Ernest Hemingway, nicknamed “Papa,” embraced this writing philosophy. Known for an unadorned, sparse prose style, he favored short sentences with strong verbs and very few adjectives or adverbs. While Hemingway is well known for this style, he — like the rest of —worked hard at his writing:

Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do?
Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.
Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?
Hemingway: Getting the words right.

– Ernest Hemingway, The Paris Review Interview, 1956

OMIT NEEDLESS WORDS

In writing, it’s important to omit needless words, the cruft that obscures what you’re trying to say to your reader. Never use more words than you really need to communicate — be brutal: remove all the words unnecessary to conveying meaning. Let’s look at one example.

Consider this sentence. There are 19 words. Most of the words are cruft:

In order to fully understand and absorb a piece of writing I must go about reading it many times.

After revising, we’re down to eight words — less than half of the original sentence and the meaning remains.

To understand a text, I must re-read it.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Based on this week’s writing challenge, I chose to edit an older post to half the original word count.

It was no easy feat for Little Miss Wordy!

Thank you Krista!

The Original Piece (828 words)

Wedding-Ring2

The digital clock on the nightstand read 3:43 am, as I awoke from a deep sleep to the sound of what could only be bad news. Phones ringing in the middle of the night don’t often carry with them the promise of anything good on the other end, especially when your spouse works the night shift. Still, I hesitated to answer it as I looked around the room as though looking through an old window covered in a thick, grimy film. Three rings, then four rings. On the fifth ring, my arm stretched out in a wooden motion as though someone was holding the marionette strings that were forcing my body to perform the actions my mind was trying so hard to resist. I picked up the receiver, and before I could say a single word was inundated with an avalanche of words tumbling out in a voice I was more familiar with than the very palm that held the phone. I inhaled deeply, filling my lungs with air, slowly lifting the weight that seconds earlier was crushing my chest. My relief at hearing his voice didn’t allow me to focus on his words. In his endless string of hurried phrases strung together with pauses to catch his own breath, I could only make out a few words. Wedding. Flood. Ring. Elevator. Almost died. That last one caused me to bolt out of bed, my feet oblivious to the icy tiles they landed upon as they paced the tiny bedroom that was our first as bride and groom. The room that held pillow talks long into the night of memories, dreams, and all the whispers that forever join two people together now closed in on me as I pieced together the story of how my husband almost drowned for fear of losing the very symbol of the love this tiny room had seen in our first years of marriage.

He worked the night shift at the hospital, and had headed down to the basement for a snack to keep him awake, as the sounds of hours of thunderstorms and falling rain had begun to lull him to sleep. As the ding announcing the elevator’s arrival sounded, the doors opened only a couple of inches, but enough for a steady stream of water to gush through and begin to fill the elevator. No matter how often or how forcefully he pounded the elevator buttons, the doors wouldn’t budge and the water kept rising. He worked his hands into the slight opening and with what could only have been the force of an adrenaline rush, pried open the doors enough to slip through into the flooded basement and find the nearest staircase. A few hours later, he realized his wedding ring was no longer on his finger. For most, panic would have set in as the elevator flooded. As he describes it, the moment he realized his ring was missing was when the real panic set in for him. He headed back down to the basement, and waded his way through the water for what seemed like an eternity, searching desperately for a small piece of gold that meant the world to him. As emotions threatened to overcome him, in the small corner of the elevator he saw a glimmer of hope and something else as he reached down and pulled his wedding ring to the surface.

A wedding ring is only a material item, a piece of metal with more sentimental value than monetary value. However, for the two people who place that ring on each other’s finger in front of all their loved ones, it is so much more. It is a shout from the rooftops declaring their love for another. It is a vault of memories and special moments shared by just the two of them, that each carry close to their heart, reliving those moments with a quick glance at their hand. It is a constant reminder of the love shared by two human beings. It represents a lifetime commitment to share in the good with each other, to support each other in the toughest of times, and to add more love to this sometimes dismal world of ours. How could that ever be a bad thing? Why should that ever be denied to anyone just because they are gay? What right does our government have to deny this and so much more to a couple simply because they happen to be of the same sex? Why should they jump through rings to be allowed the same rights heterosexual couples are automatically given?

The ring isn’t necessary for two people to show their love for one another. It isn’t necessary to join two people in marriage. The ring itself doesn’t guarantee anything really except the promise of love. How can anyone believe they have the right to forbid a union based on love, when the very essence of love is something that can’t be controlled?

The Edited Version (410 words)

Wedding-Ring2

It was 3:43am. The sound of the phone ringing awoke me from a deep sleep. I feared it was bad news and hesitated to answer it. On the fifth ring, I willed myself to reach for it, fighting the fear of what awaited me. I picked up the receiver and heard my husband’s voice. His words tumbled together…wedding-flood-ring- elevator-almost died. The last one caused me to bolt out of bed, my feet hitting the icy cold tiles in the tiny bedroom that held our love story. He frantically told me how that night he had almost lost his life and the symbol of that love story, his wedding band.

The stormy weather during that night’s shift, was making him sleepy and he had headed to the hospital basement for a snack. When he arrived, the elevator doors partially opened and water began to quickly fill the elevator. He pounded the elevator buttons, but the doors wouldn’t budge and the water kept rising. An adrenaline rush allowed him to push apart the doors just enough to slip out and find the nearest staircase.

A few hours later, he realized his wedding ring was missing and that’s when the real panic set in. He headed back to the basement and waded his way through the water for some time, desperately searching for a small piece of gold that meant the world to him. Then in the small corner of the elevator he saw a glimmer of hope and pulled his wedding ring to the surface.

A wedding ring is a piece of metal with more sentimental than monetary value. However, for the two people who place that ring on each other’s finger it is so much more. It is a shout from the rooftops. It is a vault of memories. It is a constant reminder of their love, and represents a lifetime commitment to add more love to this sometimes dismal world of ours. How could that ever be a bad thing? Why should that ever be denied to anyone just because they are gay?

The ring isn’t necessary for two people to show their love for one another. It isn’t necessary to join two people in marriage. The ring itself doesn’t guarantee anything really except the promise of love. How can anyone believe they have the right to forbid a union based on love, when the very essence of love is something that can’t be controlled?

13 thoughts on “One Ring To Rule Them All – edited (Weekly Writing Challenge)

  1. Pingback: The Papa Hemingway Writing Challenge | Jake Kuyser

  2. I’m with all on this one! I loved your first and sometimes those eloquent dangling words create the art of the writing piece! Maybe all the time… Your writing is art, ya know. 😉

    • Thank you Vernette. I’m definitely sticking with my voice and my wordy posts. I do think it was a good exercise to see the difference. While it still told the same story, the second version didn’t really sound like me anymore. BTW, if you decide to make Red Circle Days a book club selection, Sarah Book Publishing is currently running a sale…any two books save ten percent, plus free shipping until June 30th! Have a great weekend!

  3. I remember the first version and loved it. I don’t think this style suits you. It’s your ability to weave a story that is your talent and your humanity, especially in little bytes like your blog posts. You don’t sell information, you sell feeling so to speak. Stay wordy!!!

    • Oh thank goodness! The second version definitely told the same story, but it was definitely not my voice. I understand “omitting needless words” but I’m Little Miss Wordy not Little Less Wordy. 😉 Thank you for this comment.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s