Thursday December 15, 2011
Up for the role
By OH TEIK THEAM
A MULTITUDE of words turned up for the word audition arranged by the Writer for his new novella. When he announced the results, the words that were selected danced for joy.
Some of the words that didn’t make the grade stamped their feet in anger. Most of the also-rans took the experience in their stride and vowed to attend future auditions.
One also-ran, Angrily, approached the Writer and said, “I don’t feel any anger towards you.”
“You are a good sport,” said the Writer, patting the fellow on his back.
Another also-ran, Happy, had a bone to pick with the Writer: “I think you hate adjectives.”
“That’s not true,” said the Writer. “I picked your friends Hungry and Quiet, didn’t I? And you were in my last story, weren’t you?”
“Yeah, in the sentence ‘Wish Natalie a happy birthday from me’,” the adjectival modifier said, pouting. “Have a heart, Writer. Please change your mind and make my day.”
“Save your breath,” said the Writer. “You just do not belong in the story.”
Happy could feel her hackles rising.
“You will have noticed that most of the words I chose are verbs and nouns,” the Writer continued.
“Well, the reason is that verbs and nouns show, whereas adjectives and adverbs tell – the reader likes to be shown, not told. Let me give you an example. In the first draft of a story, I may write ‘She was embarrassed’, but in a subsequent draft I’ll change the sentence to ‘She coloured to the tips of her ears’.”
“Why do I suddenly feel so worthless?” Happy said, her voice breaking with emotion.
“Although I can’t speak of you in the same breath as a noun or verb, you are certainly not worthless,” said the Writer. “I do not completely disregard adjectives and adverbs – I use them sparingly.” And looking at the expression on Happy’s face, he added, “Is there something else that I can do to make you happy?”
Smiling through her tears, Happy said, “Perhaps you should have said, ‘Is there something else that I can do to put a smile on your face?’”
For a moment, the Writer and Happy stared at each other. And then they dissolved into fits of laughter, so that the room shook and the Writer woke up with a start from his afternoon slumber.
Turn up: (i) To arrive. (ii) To be found. (The search has turned up some interesting information.) (iii) To happen or present itself. (I think something is sure to turn up, so please don’t worry.)
Make the grade: To succeed.
Take something in one’s stride: To deal with something unpleasant or difficult calmly.
Have a bone to pick with someone: To have something to complain about to someone.
Have a heart: To be reasonable, considerate, helpful, tolerant, etc.
Change one’s/someone’s mind: To change one’s/someone’s plan or intention.
Make someone’s day: To make someone extremely pleased.
Save one’s breath: To stop talking because one’s words are not heeded.
Someone’s hackles rise: Someone becomes angry.
Not in the same breath: Not to be compared.