Churchill Said It Best, part one

by Ruth Logan Herne

“Gentlemen,” offered the esteemed head of state of the entire United Kingdom, “Nevah, nevah, nevah give up.”

That was the extent of Winston Churchill’s commencement address to the graduating class of his alma mater. A school where, by the way, the headmaster had scolded that the young Churchill would never amount to anything.

Ah, yes.

Churchill said more in those seven words than many of us say in a lifetime. He was clear and succinct. It made an impression.

Still does.

When we write, we use words. Big, small, short, long: They’re all words. Our power is in the usage. Not the overusage.

As we write, we feel the need to explain. How many times have you read an otherwise good book, well-written, great POV, strong plot, delightful characters to either love or hate, where the conflict is presented to you first through dialogue, then thought, then shared confidence with a friend/sister/priest/minister/mother/father… Then again in reflection or conscience.

We get it, already. Once is enough. Maybe twice. When an author hits me over the head with a hammer to make his/her point, I get tempted to strike back. “Stop!” I yell. “You told me this on page forty-two when Denise was crying to Amanda about how hard it is to love again now that Goofus is serving time for aggravated assault and use of a deadly weapon. Then again when she wallowed in her pillow at night, thinking of how she could never trust again if a big ape like Goofus could get through her walls of reserve. Then, once more when she called her friend Judy to talk about how hard it is to face holidays without Goofus, the no-good scum, and how she doesn’t dare trust Gallant with her heart of hearts. Oh, and wait, what was that when she faced her minister on Christmas Eve? That’s right, we had her sharing her plight with him just before she went home and lamented to her mother over a glass of chilled eggnog that she wasn’t sure how she could face life without Goofus, even though Gallant is cool, strong, good-looking, talented, faithful and loves the dog that he saved from untimely death at the local animal shelter.

Puhlease. Spare the words and the internal conflict. Got it in one.

I’m writing this because it is one of my deadly sins of writing. I do it constantly. Why is it that we can pick it out plainly in another’s story, (often published, at that) but we fail to see it in our own?

Continue to part two

Ruth Logan Herne loves God, family, country and sometimes dogs. When she’s not hard at work torturing young children, she writes wonderful stories of faith, family, hope and inspiration. She loves chocolate and has discovered Starbucks caramel/mocha frappuccinos. Watch out.


  1. Just a quick point - as an English person, I'd like to point out that the Queen is the United Kingdom's Head of State, not the Prime Minister, and has been for a very long time.


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