Wimpy, Wimpy, Wimpy! How Trash Bags Taught Editing

No, not THAT Wimpy!

No, not THAT Wimpy!

I was shameless.

That 1984 commercial for Hefty trash bags sang about inferior bags.

“Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy!” teased the nasal singers as America watched a mess burst from a cheaper bag.

When I was invited to an elementary school to talk about how I wrote children’s books (and still do), I sang the commercial.

“Throw those wimpy words in your trash bags,” I begged. “Use HEFTY words.”

Then, I bashed the limited worth of the words “a lot” and “very.”

Is “very” much as good as “very, very” much? Is “a whole lot” twice as good as “a lot?”

I implored those classrooms to choose details. Specific details. More words won’t promise more meaning.

As you take out the trash this week, remember your writing. Should you be discarding a few excess words, too?


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