Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for Yada, Yada, Yada

I've been blogging through the alphabet with the many others participating in the 2014 A to Z Challenge. We've blogged daily--except for Sunday. As much as I love the A to Z Challenge, and look forward to it every year, I'm always glad when we reach the end. Tomorrow will be Z day, and then a wrap-up on Thursday. The A to Z Challenge is the brilliant brainchild of Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out. I wish I'd thought of it, though I'm sure I couldn't have accomplished what Arlee has accomplished. I think we must all look forward to this wondrous event; it's almost like a family or class reunion, or an Easter egg hunt where we reunite each year and play catch-up, and make new friends. I'd like to encourage you to visit all the various bloggers and their sites for entertaining, informative posts. I'm amazed at the many talented people who participate in the A to Z Challenge.

Today is Y day and the first thing that popped into my mind was Yada Yada Yada. I've never liked that phrase, because I immediately wonder, what is the yada yada yada? What am I missing?

I became aware of Yada Yada Yada from a Seinfeld episode. But the phrase was used way before that in a Magnum PI episode, as well as a Cheers episode, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Seinfeld made it memorable.

According to several online dictionaries, Yada Yada Yada is nothing more than empty, boring talk. We face that every day, don't we? Like when the woman from church shares every single thing she did during the week, including tidbits about the estranged cousins who came to visit. She calls them by name in her friendly, lyrical voice, as if we know them. I'm never sure how to respond to this kind of dialogue so I oooh and aaaah and make funny expressions in sympathy or encouragement.

If we're not careful, we can write empty, boring dialogue like this in our short stories or novels. Dialogue that offers nothing to our readers and doesn't move our story along. We may as well just write Yada Yada Yada. But then I wonder, isn't Yada Yada Yada in the eye (or ear) of the beholder? Maybe it's only boring to those who have a touch of impatience, or don't enjoy dialogue, or want the story to zip along at a good pace. Sometimes, I guess.

I can tell when a contest judge speed reads my entry. She misses important details and asks about them in her comments. Maybe she doesn't like dialogue so goes straight to the narrative. Or maybe my dialogue really is Yada Yada Yada.

Rambling dialogue is a killer in a book or story. Small talk shouldn't happen. We've been told to write the way we talk, but we all know that can be a killer too. We stop, start, loose our train of thought. Yada Yada Yada!

Dialogue should have a purpose: reveal character, personality, build toward the conflict, the goal. Rather than reiterate here Yada Yada Yada, check out this great piece on writing dialogue. It's a keeper.

And by the way, research shows that the word Yada is a Hebrew word that means "to know" so take a look and learn what yada really means.

Your thoughts?


Holli Moncrieff said...

I agree with this completely. Rambling conversations that go nowhere do not belong in our writing--we get enough of them in real life.

The problem lies in extraneous details, I think. I once had a friend who would tell the most boring stories about her workday, but they were only boring because she turned a five-minute story into a five-hour one by including everyone's name, rank, and serial number. Sometimes the details aren't necessary.

We're almost there! One more post. :)

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

Thanks Holli! Looking forward to the end but will miss my A to Z friends. :)