Wednesday, October 15, 2014


by Sarah Sullivan

imagebase25 82Today’s language is so littered with acronyms it’s hard to keep up! The practice of word cropping that began with e-mails (BFF, LOL, POV, NIMBY, BTW, GR8) has grown right along with communication technology that seems determined to shorten the time it takes us to convey our thoughts and ideas to the world. These same acronyms are now seeping into our speech. Apparently we are all too busy to say “Oh My God!” and now must simply utter OMG! 

There is one acronym in particular that I am hearing a lot of these days andI feel we should talk about, writer to writer. TMI is the acronym for “too much information”. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why your brother-in-law may cringe at hearing the blow by blow of your sexual history and that detailing your birth experience to the mail man might be considered socially inappropriate. But for a writer, is there really such a thing as TMI? 

The notion that over sharing is somehow negative is rarely useful for writers. In fact avoiding TMI can be downright disastrous! Over sharing and TMI are distinct from over writing which burdens the reader with so much superfluous language or useless detail that it dilutes and/or derails the story. But stark uninhibited honesty not only saves a lot of time, but it can also transports a composition from a puff piece or intellectual exercise to a cathartic experience. As a reader, I appreciate an author who takes chances and trusts me to understand the multi-dimensional nature of the human experience which explains why a person or character makes choices that might be considered morally questionable, totally irresponsible or just down right idiotic. 

Cheryl Strayed is a no-holds bar writer who explores her drug use, infidelity and the pain of her mother's death both in her memoir Wild and as advice columnist, Dear Sugar. No one would argue that Louis Zamparini, the focus of the book Unbroken, was an incredible human being who was also a not so nice alcoholic for a time. Sherlock Holmes had his opium, Edward Rochester locked his mentally ill wife in the attic and Bridgette Jones, well...Bridgette Jones is the poster child for over sharing and look where it got Helen Fielding. 

Where as maudlin and cloying are born out of false sentiment and emotional manipulation (think everything Nicholas Sparks has ever written - not that he's complaining!) raw emotion is a different animal all together. Underneath it's ugly surface the warts and all human being is someone we can usually relate to or at the very least learn to understand. One of the great virtues inherent in writing is it's ability to shine the light of truth into an often deluded world. Be brave, writing friends, let us know who you and your characters really are and err on the side of TMI! xoxoxoxoxo

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