When writing, select every word as though you are writing it on a banana.
I do write on bananas. To me, bananas present a lovely, smooth, yellow canvas. I love the way the pen glides over the soft peel. And I love the way the banana looks in the fruit basket on the counter top. I also love the way everyone who enters my house heads into the kitchen to read my bananas. So since I was a little kid, I've written on bananas. I don't just write willy-nilly. I write only the finest, wisest quotes, or the loveliest lines of poetry I can find.
"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." -Carl Sagan
This work of art was achieved using a Dole banana and a Bic Round Stick pen in blue.
Why do I give my students the advice to write every word as though they are writing on a banana? Simple. The banana-writing has to be brimming with meaning, but it has to also be concise. After all, there's not a lot of room on a banana.
We practice removing superfluous words. "The children's elementary school was filled with boys and girls working hard on state tests," becomes "The school was filled with students working hard on state tests." We remove redundancies. "The two twins..." becomes "The twins..."
My friend, Brian Heinz, author of The Monsters' Test, Kayuktuk, and more, comes in every year to run a wonderful writing workshop with my students. He tells students that four words can dramatically improve their writing: so, really, very, and nice. How can these words improve their writing? By taking them out. Great advice, as these words are almost always unnecessary in advancing meaning.
In order to celebrate the spirit of banana writing, I decided that keeping it to myself in my humble abode was selfish indeed. Therefore, every Sunday, starting today, will henceforth be called "Banana Sunday." Come here to find amazing banana-wisdom, and maybe even banana-art or banana-humor.
And if you are so inspired, please spread the banana-wisdom by doing some of your own banana-writing. Yes, pay forward the banana-wisdom! And please be sure to send me a picture. :)