Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Yesterday " @joannechocolat " otherwise

known as the author Joanne Harris "tweeted" another story on Twitter. (If you have a Twitter account and don't yet follow her you should. Her "tweets" are often witty and amusing, her Shed is a delight and you can help her look after Vlad-the-cat-who-has-adopted-her.)
But, back to the serious business of "story time". There have been a series of these stories in which she talks about bees and spiders, kings, queens, princes, evil doings and love affairs. The same characters appear over the series and people are getting to know them.
The stories appear simple enough but they are told in the short 140 character sequences allowed by Twitter. It takes real skill to do that. If you are reading one it can take an agonisingly long minute as you wait to find out "what happens next". What is more Joanne Harris is so good at writing that, even the space of a tweet, you get a sense of the character or place she is talking about.
The Senior Cat is, by his own admission, not a good writer. It is not because he does not understand what makes "good writing". He did his degree in English (with a subsidiary in Latin). He loves literature.  But, when he writes something, he uses too many words. "I am too wordy" he tells me when he passes me something to edit.
I prowl through it and ruthlessly cut it by a half or even two thirds. No doubt other people could do the same to me.
But I can also write short pieces. When I get accosted in the shopping centre or the library and someone says, "Cat, I want to write a letter to the paper..." I know that what they want is help to say something in a succinct manner. They know I can write a longer letter. The paper will print something three hundred words long from me because they know me but they will rarely print more than one hundred from someone they do not know.
And all this got me to thinking about politicians and the way they talk. The recycled Prime Minister is recycling his style as well. He is, to be blunt, "too wordy". He has "polly-speak" down to a fine art. He can "answer" a question with incredible fluency and say absolutely nothing at all. He uses long words. He uses words in an extraordinarily convoluted fashion. He is a nightmare for reporters and interviewers. Oh yes, all politicians do it but his skill at doing it is far greater than most. It is as if he is afraid of being caught actually answering a question.
I would love @Joannechocolat aka as Joanne Harris to take him hand and teach him how to use English.