It’s Raining Outside

I wasn’t planning to write a blog post today, but something on twitter set me thinking.

The tweet was “It’s raining outside………” I don’t need to continue on with the tweet because the rest of it isn’t important to this post.

My first instinct was to tweet back something smart like— “Where else would it rain?” or “Good thing it’s not raining inside”— but I wasn’t sure if my humour would be well received since I don’t know this particular tweeter very well. (See previous post!) Not everyone appreciates my sense of humour as difficult as that is for me to believe.

But this got me thinking about those times, in our writing, when we state the obvious as this particular tweeter did. I sometimes catch myself doing this even in my own writing. Stating that someone picked an object up in their hands for instance, such as “He picked the Frisbee up in his hands,” should be pretty darn obvious unless the He in question is a dog named Benny who likes to play Frisbee. Then by all means “He picked the Frisbee up in his mouth” would sound appropriate (unless Benny’s one smart dog who picked the Frisbee up with his paws. But let’s not go there.)

“She kicked the can with her foot” is another obvious statement. I’ve kicked a thing or two in my day, and I gotta say I always used my foot. Even if I were to say I kicked it with my shoe you’d have to figure on my foot being in that shoe. Wouldn’t you? If anyone out there has kicked at something and their foot wasn’t in someway involved, I’d be interested in hearing about it.

On another note we’d never, ever say, “He ate an apple with his mouth,” or ”She listened to the music with her ears.” Please tell me you’ve never written, said, or was even tempted to say, “He ate an apple with his mouth.”

Still, I’ve got to admit it intrigues me to think that we accept some obvious statements without giving them a second thought while others sound so totally ridiculous to our ears that we wouldn’t consider uttering them even once.

Now I must go announce to the first person I see that it’s raining outside just to see what their reaction will be.  Wish me luck!

Update:

Me: “ It’s raining outside.”

First person I encountered: “Yes it is.”

My point exactly!!

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16 Comments

  1. You’re right! I say those obvious things all the time. I’m sure they must be in my writing, too.

    Thanks for the helpful tip.

    Reply
    • I guess many of us speak without stopping to think what we are saying and much of it is acceptable thnak goodness or we’d be made fun of. I have ocassionally mentioned someone picking something up with their hands while I’m writing, I know I have. I’m sure there are more examples in my writing as well, but I do try to watch for it.

      Reply
  2. I’m guilty. LOL. I think not reacting takes great restrain. Now I’m off to check if I do the same thing in my writing.

    Reply
    • I’m sure you’re in good company, Joylene. :) I catch myself from time to time yet I’m sure there are days when I’ve done it without a thought until something such as a tweet like yesterday’s reminds me. Now I’ll be extra careful for the next little while becasue I’m like that. :)

      Reply
  3. Good point, Laura. I caught and deleted an “obvious” like this the other day. I wouldn’t worry much about these in dialogue, since people speak this way, but I hope I catch them all in my narrative.

    Reply
    • You’re absolutely right. It wouldn’t sound wrong in dialogue at all because we do speak that way.

      Reply
  4. It rained here today, too… outside, of course. ;)

    In writing, the obvious can end up as space-filling trivialities where we document our character’s every move. (i.e., The phone rang. Donna put down her cup of tea, rose from the chair and hurried across the room, managing to answer on the fourth ring before the answering machine cut in.) Sometimes the too-obvious statement is the result of redundancy such as in, “He stood up” and “She sat down”. I hate to think of all the obvious offenders that could be skulking in my mss!

    Reply
    • I think it rained in many places in Canada yesterday, Carol.

      I do sometimes find myself documenting my character’s every move until I realize, I don’t have to do that…The magic of fiction, I can show the reader what I want. It doesn’t need to be a blow by blow account..Sheesh!! One would think these little things wouln’t trip us up after awhile.

      Reply
  5. Kelly

     /  June 29, 2010

    You totally fooled me with that one, too!

    Reply
  6. Nothing slows down the pacing as much as describing a “play by play” account of what the characters are up to or too much explaining the obvious like the “raining outside” comment.

    We all need to revise and edit our work to catch these little critters who slip into our work while our back is turned.

    Reply
    • Aah these things certainly can slow down the pacing and I’m often surprised when I catch myself doing this when I certainly know better. Revision is a God’s send!

      Reply
  7. The one I catch a lot is: “She thought to herself.’ As if she had an optional location!
    I think play-by-plays happen because we are really writing the movie of our story as we see it unfold. Good thing that, like film directors, writers have their own version of the cutting room floor.

    Reply
    • As yes that is a popular one for me, too. Agreed cutting is sometimes difficult but in this case, when something is so obviously, it actually feels good.

      Reply
  8. Polilla-Lynn

     /  July 10, 2010

    Just a comment on a comment —
    I think that the “she thought to herself” would indicate that it was not spoken aloud. You can think out loud, as in talking to yourself, but then … would that change the idea?

    Reply
    • Hi Lynn, Great to have you visit my blog. It’s been awhile. Hope the vacation was great!

      I believe Heather’s point (and I could be wrong) is this. If I was writing something that someone was thinking I would probably just stop at saying, “She thought” because the rest would be so obvious. The same as the tweeter who said it’s raining outside, didn’t need to say outside because it too was obvious. We do though accept these things in everyday language. I’ve probably heard that many times and even said it many times although on this particular day it struck a cord with me.

      You are right as well in that we can express our thoughts out loud through speech. It would probably depend upon the sentence itself and the idea that is being conveyed.

      Reply

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