Just a Little Exaggeration

Do you ever exaggerate when telling a story or writing a post? Do you add an embellishment here or there for the sake of the narrative, to help your readers relate, or to gain their sympathy?

When someone exaggerates, they are representing something (or someone) as being larger, greater, better, or worse than it (or he or she) really is.

Don’t most good storytellers exaggerate a little? They embellish their tales, perhaps in order to heighten the story’s interest or to make the deeds described within seem just a bit more dramatic, heroic, or comedic.

And, of course, comedians make use of exaggeration, amplification, and hyperbole to enhance the humor of their jokes and funny stories.

An exaggeration occurs when the most fundamental aspects of a statement are true, but only to a certain degree. It’s just “stretching the truth” a little, right?

For example, when a mother scolds her child and says, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times…” is that simply an exaggeration or is it a lie? After all, she may have told her kid that a lot, but certainly not a million times.

How about “I’m so hungry that I could eat a horse”? Or “You could have knocked me over with a feather”? Are these common idioms examples of exaggeration, hyperbole, or lies? Do we recognize and accept them because of how obvious it is that these are “exaggerations for effect”?

A fine line

But isn’t stretching the truth also lying and being dishonest? I think we can all agree that there is a fine line between exaggeration and lying. But if that’s the case, where does it fall and under what circumstances should it not be crossed?

I’ve heard some suggest that the difference between an exaggeration and a lie is that the former doesn’t cause any harm, whereas the latter does. Others say the difference between the two is that an exaggeration could be seen as a matter of interpretation of facts. A lie, though, is a deception with the intention to mislead.

It is, indeed, a slippery slope when trying to distinguish between a benign exaggeration and an outright lie.

As a blogger and a storyteller, what are your feelings about exaggeration? Do you equate adding embellishments to your posts to lying? When, if ever, is stretching the truth permissible?

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One Space or Two?

Proportional versus Monospace font

In his post yesterday, my blogger friend Jim Adams wrote, “If you have ever read any of my posts you may have noticed that I always skip two spaces after every period and before I start a new sentence. I guess that this would qualify me as being anal.”

No, Jim, not anal. Just a throwback to the dark ages. You see, way back when I was in high school (aka, the dark ages), before personal computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, I took a typing class. On a typewriter. A manual typewriter.

In that class we were taught to always put two spaces after periods at the end of sentences. It turns out, though, that the “two space rule” I was taught in 10th grade typing class is an archaic rule.

Most typewriters back then had only the courier font, a monospaced font where each letter took up the same amount of space. The skinny “i” and wider “w” occupied the same amount of space on the printed page. To make the text more readable, two spaces were used after the period in order to give the eyes a break between sentences.

When typing on a computer, however, most fonts are proportional fonts, which means that characters are not all the same widths. That skinny “i” referred to earlier takes up much less space than that fat “w.” Hence, putting an extra space between sentences doesn’t do anything to improve readability.

It was difficult for me, at first, to break a decades old habit of putting two spaces after each sentence-ending period. But when I started carefully reading printed documents and emails for work, I noticed that when I used only one space after the periods versus two, they looked better, more professional. And I also noticed that my blog posts looked more professional as well.

So I moved into the 21st century and embraced the “one-space rule.” But this is certainly not a life and death matter, Jim. If you wish to continue to practice the archaic “two-space rule” in your posts, well hey, it’s your blog and you can do as you please. I won’t think any less of you.

Of course, if you do choose to continue to skip two spaces after every period and before you start a new sentence, I’m afraid I’m going to have to rescind my nomination of you for the Unique Blogger Award.

Who? Me?

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I’m always entertained when I read about the trials and tribulations of teaching, bicycling, and other activities of daily living over at Non-Euclidean Sofa. But imagine my surprise when he notified me that he’d nominated me for a blog award.

Yes, he nominated me for the Unique Blogger Award. I’m not sure what that is, or what it means, but it’s always nice to have someone recognize you for something you do, other than whatever crimes and misdemeanors you may have committed during your life. So I’m pleased and appreciative of him for think kindly of my blog.

Anyway, as with anything worthwhile, there are rules.

  1. Share the link of the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you.
  2. Answer the questions.
  3. In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate 8-13 people for the same award.
  4. Ask them 3 questions.

Okay, here goes. Time to pay it forward.

I have shared the link of the nominator. Now I have to answer his three questions.

  1. What is something you’d show from a rooftop on a Sunday night during a rainstorm? Also, explain why at your leisure.

Why would I be doing anything from a rooftop on a Sunday night during a rainstorm? And did he mean “show” from a rooftop or “shout” from a rooftop? No one knows, right? Anyway, I’d shout, “Rain, rain go away, come again another day, or night, or whatever. Just go the fuck away.” Why, because I’m on a rooftop and it’s raining. Why else?

2. What is something you could enjoy complaining a lot about?

You mean besides Donald Trump? Oh, let’s see. The weather. Traffic. The cost of living. Life in general. Yup, that about covers it.

3. What is something you think about that keeps you awake?

You mean besides Donald Trump? Oh, let’s see. The weather. Traffic. The cost of living. Life in general. Yup, that about covers it.

Now I’m supposed to nominate a bunch of other bloggers. This is where it’s easy to get in trouble. There are so many bloggers who are deserving of this recognition and I’m bound to leave someone out and that will piss them off. But a line, no matter how arbitrary, must be drawn. So here goes, in no particular order.

Sight’s poetry is often incomprehensible to me and I even am challenged by much of his prose. Still, he takes us all on quite a journey at his blog.

Sandi’s Flip Flops Every Day is always a fun read and the comments section is a hoot. And she’s also the brains behind the Manic Monday challenges.

Jim Adams is an author, a historian, and a teacher. I always learn new things at his blog.

Not to be missed are the cartoons and humor over at Bad Dad Cartoons. They’ll keep you smiling (and sometimes groaning).

Margaret Curry’s Life on the Skinny Branches is entertaining and endearing.

Marilyn Armstrong leads an interesting life and is full of wit and charming wisdom at her Serendipity blog.

I always have fun with Linda G. Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday and Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompts. She’s the blogger who got me into responding to prompts and challenges.

Michael at Morpethroad is fellow prompt responder and he always has a good story to tell.

Jerry Brotherton, The Backyard Poet is a recent discovery and his down home humor and observations are engaging.

I share my strong political beliefs with Lydia’s at A Lot From Lydia, and she’s great at expressing things that, were I more talented, I might say myself.

Kijo’s Live Life, Make Meaning blog, even though I’m not a fan of poetry, is a must read.

Okay. I’ve reached that arbitrary line and fulfilled my obligation. There are many other bloggers who deserve recognition, as well. But, should I ever be honored with another blog award, I’ll get to them.

And thanks again to Non-Euclidean Sofa for the recognition.

A Man of Many Words

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I am a contradiction.

In the real world, I’m something of an introvert. In social situations, I tend to stumble and bumble may way through conversations. I listen to the discussions going on around me. Sometimes I may react to what people are saying. But only occasionally will I contribute to the dialogue.

I am not someone who seeks to be the center of attention or who tries to draw others to his side while leading lively discussions on engaging topics. I’m more of an observer than an active participant. One might characterize me as a man of few words.

Contrast that with how I am when sitting at my desk tapping away at my keyboard. There, I am a god, the ruler of my universe, reaching out to my minions and waxing on about nature, life, and society with myriad words expressing profound wisdom and unparalleled wit.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit over the top.

What I’m really saying is that, when it comes to the written word, I’m a man of many — not few — words. Maybe even too many words. That’s because brevity of the written word goes against the grain of the way I’ve been writing all of my life.

Sure, I over-explain things and I often use more words than may be necessary to make my point. But I’ve always felt that my style of writing, verbose though it may occasionally be, adds color and life to what I write, and demonstrates that I’m an intelligent and articulate writer with an excellent command of the language.

And perhaps ― just perhaps ― that I am someone with a slightly exaggerated sense of self-appreciation.

The late Al Neuharth, founder of, and columnist for, USA Today, wrote that “long-winded stuff loses the attention of listeners and readers.” He quoted FDR, Henry David Thoreau, and Mark Twain, all of whom made comments about how difficult it is to be concise in one’s writing. Twain, for example, said, “If I had more time, I’d write shorter.”

I find it much easier to write in a stream of consciousness manner than it is to be concise. I usually start out writing whatever pops into my head about a subject and then try to edit that free-flow of words into something cohesive. But that process is often more a matter of moving things around than actually cutting out words.

Removing what some might consider to be unnecessary words from my writing is difficult for me because everything I write is, in my humble opinion, germane to the subject matter. Thus, nothing is unnecessary. For me, removing words, phrases, and especially entire sentences is akin to asking a mother to choose which child she’s willing to edit out of her family.

So you see, while I consider myself to be a writer who has a way with words, what I should be striving to be is a writer who knows how to do away with words.


Today’s one-word daily prompt is bumble.

Life’s Illusions

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Jake was under the impression that there were certain givens in life. Aside from the givens of birth, death, and taxes, that is. Givens like hard work will be rewarded, love conquers all, time heals all wounds, and a whole host of other trite platitudes that Jake accepted as life’s givens.

But as Jake grew older and more and more cynical, one might even say jaded, he learned that those are all illusions. Well, except for birth, death, and taxes, which are all too real.

Jake did work hard most of his life until his company moved the bulk of its jobs, including Jakes, to China and India. He suddenly found himself unemployed and uninsured. Even his pension plan ran out of funds due to poor decisions by management.

Jake was deeply in love with the woman of his dreams. Or was that just love’s illusions he recalled? Shortly after he lost his job and ran out of money, she walked out on him. He found out that love doesn’t, in fact, conquer all. Losing one’s dignity, for example. Another shattered illusion.

That all happened more than two years ago and, despite the passage of time, the wounds still seemed quite fresh to Jake. He was hurting, broke, homeless, and alone.

The good life, Jake thought, was just an illusion. All of Jake’s illusions about what life was supposed to be had been shattered. Yet, despite the hurt and disillusionment, he was still alive. He was still breathing. His heart was still beating. And he knew that his reality, as bad as it seemed, would persist. Somehow, in some way, he would survive.

After all, where there’s a will, there’s a way. At least that’s the illusion Jake chose to embrace.


This post is for today’s One-word prompt, that word being “illusion.”