The Perfect Couple (or how to avoid adverbs and passive voice)

Monday, December 10, 2007, 9:11 PM

An interesting piece appeared on Every Day Fiction today. It's a short-short by Christopher Kastensmidt entitled A Perfect Couple, and it's entirely made up of two word sentences, each containing a subject and a verb. I was impressed by this exercise in economy, and how the writer says so much with so little. While one could argue that it's more interesting as a cerebral exercise than as a work of fiction, I think it's a lesson in how unneccessary a lot of the words we use in writing really are. Check it out and let me know what you think.


Blogger Ello said...

That is cute - but I think it helps that it is titled so it gives you a hint of what it is about. Reminds me of the Hemingway story Baby shoes for sale never worn.

4:10 PM  
Blogger cyn said...

i felt it was very original. it does show how powerful economy of words is, but it also shows me how it can't be enough in storytelling. at least, what i enjoy. i wanted more, even if what he gave was powerful and sufficed. in the novels we write, we need to flesh out but not overdo it. it's a fine balance. which is why it's so difficult. for me, at least.

6:32 PM  
Blogger moonrat said...

this is cool. thanks for the link.

perhaps you could host a noun-verb contest. people seem to like contests.

5:13 PM  
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8:41 PM  
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8:43 PM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

I have to say it didn't do much for me. I like my verbs to really carry my writing, and I felt he chose fairly mundane verbs, especially in a piece in which each verb really stood out. But that's just my opinion, and as an exercise, it's fine. What really lacked for me was characterization and setting. The piece was entirely plot.

I find that to be the case in a lot of flash, and maybe that's why I don't have an appreciation for flash that others do. I love that short story writing can really hone novel writing skills, and I obviously love a good short story. But I like my fiction to rest on characterization, setting, and plot, and often flash lacks one or another of these facets. Yeah, we've bought flash for Espec. But it's not my favorite.

Sorry to clutter your comments with my mistakes--bad connection over here.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Josephine Damian said...

LOVED it. Really works as an economical bit of flash, and the line breaks were also used effectively.

If only the nit wits in my writers group got that adverbs and passive voice are bad.

But when will Conduit's story appear? Or did I miss it?! Shit.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Precie said...

Hmm...I'm torn. LOVED the concept. Liked the execution.

But felt the actual plot was a bit stale.

I love Hemingway's baby shoes story. And I suppose shearing away setting and characterization gives this story a stronger sense of universality.

So, to me, it's good...but not quite great.

3:49 PM  
Blogger McKoala said...

I found it kind of annoying!

2:02 AM  
Blogger Conduit said...

I think it's fair to say the piece divided opinion!

Personally, I think it works as an exercise more than a piece of fiction to be read for entertainment. It also makes me think about what I write, and how I can be more economical.

Moonrat: That's a good idea, I might just do that. I'll see if I can put something online tomorrow. :)

5:54 PM  

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