Less Lassie, Less

“Timmy’s in the well!”

The tone, the urgency, the panic lies in the brevity of Lassie’s quest for immediate action from Timmy’s mom.

“Timmy’s in the well!”

It’s a reflex, an impulse to blurt, share and shout the news that poor Timmy’s in danger, and it feels real. We have a sudden impulse to drop our broom, frying pan, garden tools or chicken feed, and follow her—no questions asked.

Now, imagine Lassie wasn’t a minimalist when it came to expressing herself. Imagine Lassie was a little more pretentious, convinced that if she added more to the story, she might come across a little wiser than we already knew her to be.

“Excuse me fair lady of the house, but it is of my astute opinion that you might wish to share on my little secret that a dreadful fate has befallen young Master Timmy and he currently lies in the bowels of the dank, dark, dirty well.”

First of all, in the time she took to convey her message, Timmy drowned. Second, Timmy’s mom’s initial response is most likely to be, “Wait, what?” risking additional explanation and wasted time.

Lassie knows that often in writing, less is more. Less is powerful.

You’d have to agree that Lassie’s initial (and far more famous) line of “Timmy’s in the well!” works best, right?

Wrong. There is no line. Lassie’s a dog, silly.

Back to work.

Tanya BesmehnComment