(This posting originally appeared on The Melt-Ink Pot)
When I was a kid, my brothers and I had a record player with which we were allowed to play. It would only play 45 rpms–and it played them at about 42 1/2 rpms.
For the most part it didn’t matter. We didn’t have very many records we could play, anyway. Mom and Dad had more, but they were the good records, and we weren’t allowed to play with them. The ones we had were mostly novelty records.
One of the records was titled, “It’s In The Book,” by a fellow named Johnny Standley. Side A of the record (yes, this was still when you had to turn records over to hear the other side. By hand.) was a line by line examination of “Little Bo Peep.”
Thanks to the magic of the internets, you can listen to it here:
|Johnny Standley – It’s In The Book .mp3|
|Found at bee mp3 search engine|
(You might have to enter a code to hear it.)
Feel free to stop listening when the singing starts. Unless you want to hear the B side, which is a somewhat amusing ditty called “Grandma’s Lye Soap.” I thought it was hysterical when I was six.
But the part I wanted to discuss today was the dissection of “Little Bo Peep.”
Sometimes, when I’m writing, I get carried away with the rhythm of the words, with how they sound in my mind. I’ll write long passages full of repetition and extra verbiage, when I didn’t really need to. And sometimes, that’s nice. It helps define my voice, and keeps what I’ve written from turning into a bare recitation of facts.
But sometimes, it just makes me look silly. Kind of like:
The man said she lost her sheep, turns right around and boldly states, “she doesn’t know where to find them”, and then has the stupid audacity to say, “Leave them alone.”
Now…now, now, think for a moment, think! If the sheep were lost, and you couldn’t find them, you’d have to leave them alone, wouldn’t you?
So for me, at least, the challenge lies in finding just the right balance between enough description to be interesting and not so much that it bogs down the story.
It’s something I’m still working on.
How do other people approach the problem?