Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Wit of the Staircase

by Matt Sinclair

There's a French term that appeals to me: L'esprit de l'escalier. Literally, it means "the wit of the staircase," and in practical language it means thinking of the perfect response too late. 

Let's face it, we've all done it, whether there was a staircase involved or not. In fact, the perfect response often hits me in the bathroom, which seems appropos.

I'm not sure, but such instances may in part be why I became a writer. I like having the perfect word to say, le mot juste to keep that little French thing going. But it doesn't always happen immediately.

As writers, we need to have an ear for what our characters are saying, even if they've already walked through the exit on a scene. The key: know your characters. Even when they don't know what to say, they're telling you something.

Good thing we can revise, huh?

2 comments:

Debra McKellan said...

Right, because without revisions, my characters would've never said or done anything that was characteristic of them!

Now if only we can revise real life. lol I'm ALWAYS thinking, "I should've said that then."

Julie Kertesz said...

That is why web, publishing for Kindle, telling the tale again and again to live audience, etc. are so good. If you do not get it first time, you can find "le mot juste" a better way to tell, next time.