Tuesday, December 28, 2010


As a society, somewhere along the way, we seem to have lost the ability to speak in a straightforward way. It was pointed out to me by an editor friend who’d looked over one of my mss how much I waffled in my language. As an example, characters didn’t arrive somewhere at a certain time, they arrived around a certain time. Dialogue lost its crispness by words and phrases that waffled around what I was actually trying to say. In typical tough editor fashion (the good ones are always hard, aren’t they?), my friend said I really needed to do something about it.

Of course, when I looked at the novel in question once again with her words in mind, I really was horrified. I hadn’t even been aware that I was doing it.

Which brings me to today’s blog topic: waffling. We all use the technique every day, I’ll bet.

An example: why is it that people no longer die? Why is it that we no longer seem capable of saying that? “Bob’s wife passed away last week.” Or worse yet, “Bob’s wife passed last week.” Is it just me or is this sort of mealy-mouthed? Are people that afraid of death that they won’t use the word anymore?

Corporations and politicians naturally are past-masters of the waffle. They don’t want to be caught in a bold statement. They need that wiggle room. Naturally this is reinforced by every situation where a bold, unequivocal statement is made and the next day it bites someone in the butt and they have to backtrack.

The wafflers par excellence are meteorologists. “We have a 40% chance of rain tomorrow.” How many times are they right? Every time, of course! If it rains, they’re right, and if it doesn’t rain, they’re right. Just don’t try to plan your day around what they’re telling you.

Here are some of my favourites: “Mistakes were made.” (Who’s trying to weasel out of something here?) “Common sense would dictate that...” (Whose common sense?) “Experts know that...” (Here again, what experts?)

Okay, the examples in the paragraph above are from the political and corporate realms. Where do you see other examples of waffling in everyday conversation? I’ve only given one example. I came up with others yesterday, but unfortunately didn’t write them down. Mistakes were made...

Last of all, I’m at the tail end of another year of Tuesday blogs. I didn’t miss too many weeks in 2010, so that’s a lot of writing. I hope you’ve found something of use in it. Have a safe New Year’s celebration and I wish you all the best in 2011.


Mary Vaughn said...

You hit me on the head with this "waffling." I use it in my speech a lot. Now I'm afraid to look at my ms!
Blessings on your New Year~

Rick Blechta said...

No, please look at it. I found it all over the place, and once it was removed (unless called for by a character's own make-up), the ms was way better for it and the dialogue and descriptive text far more direct and punchy.

While we're at it, really take a look at any place where you use passive voice. Is it necessary or just another waffle?

Thanks for commenting!

Anonymous said...

Nike Free 3.0
Nike Free Run plus 2
Nike free run plus
Nike free run women
Cheap Nike free run
Nike free run
Nike free 2011

samuel Jaya said...

Interesting article and I Banget Fill It Love
Fraternal greetings from our.

obat aborsi

obat telat bulan

jual obat aborsi