Different Ways of Saying The Same Thing!

“It’s not what you say, Angah. It’s how you say it. You should be more diplomatic.”

Hahhaha. Sounds familiar, kak long? How about you, Alida? Izati? Don’t you guys just lourvveee those clever sentences?  

If I got a shilling for every time I got that sentence flung at me, I would be a millionaire by now (the writer exaggerates, of course. But the writer believes that exaggeration is allowed in a literary piece, so she should be forgiven. hihihi. Not that she thought this entry deserves to be labelled a literary piece. But then, it can’t be labelled trashy either since she is going to impart some sort of knowledge after all.)

And you guys would be happy to know that I totally agree with you guys. And that should perhaps account for MUCH of my (mild? less aggressive?) manners over the last few years. I have, of course, been tamed and mellowed by wisdom and can only apologize for my abhorrent manner growing up.

But, I don’t want to talk about me. (much as I like blowing my own trumpet as well as the next person)

In fact “different ways of saying the same thing” is going to be about literature. Again.

 Sorry, if some find this boring but I am in love with the world of creative writing and literature. And since uni would start in less than 2 weeks (after which I only have time for my medical books) I should be allowed to over-indulge in my lifetime passion for awhile, n’est-ce pas?

I talked with my Kak Long and we both came to the same conclusion that Khaled Hosseini’s two bestsellers were actually made up of quite an ordinary plot. But his command of the language is excellent. And that, made all the difference.  

It’s really quite logical. Think about it! How many different love stories would there be in this world? We all know that one love story cannot be so very different from another love story! In terms of plot, there aren’t going to be any great varieties.

1) Cinta terhalang:

-Romeo and Juliet, Laila and Majnun, Heer and Ranja,

2)Cinta selepas kahwin

-plot macam ni dah byk di pasaran. No examples needed.

3) cinta antara budaya

4) bercinta-berpisah-bertemu-bercinta lagi.

All right…basically, there aren’t many varieties. You know, pi mai pi mai tang tu!

But WHY do writers keep on writing love stories and WHY people still read them? Because….the difference is in the writer’s unique ability to elaborate and use certain style of language to enhance the story. Two persons would write the same plot differently and that’s why people never tire of love stories. Because we, human beings are not just intellectual creatures but also social creatures. Therefore,  LOVE forms a very integral part of our life. And we will never be tired of reading it!

Senang fikir macam ni lah. Time exam, semua orang dapat soalan esei yang sama. So isi2 karangan pun mesti lebih kurang jer. Tapi ada student yang dapat A dan ada student yang dapat B. So bezanya mestilah ‘style of writing’. Writing style is what makes the writer a great storyteller.

Maybe in the previous post, I seemed like a cynical person. But I am actually not that cynical. In fact, myheart is filled with hope. It might sound as though I had ridiculed romance writers, but trust me, if anyone tries to condemn them too much, you will find me backing them up.

Let’s be fair to romance writers. At least, in terms of plot, we have to admit that ALL genre have their own stereotypes. Not just the romance fiction.

 For example, think about crime fiction…their plots are stereotypical too. Dalam crime fiction, pasti akan ada protagonist yang tertindas, orang jahat pasti seorang yang berkuasa dan berpengaruh, orang baik akan struggle menentang orang jahat dengan pelbagai usaha yang kelihatan mustahil pada awalnya, namun akhirnya berjaya.

Still, I never tire of reading crime fiction! WHY? Again, it’s because of the style of writing!

So, back to the earlier quote; it’s how you say it. (and of course, also about how you elaborate the plot, but I am only going to focus on language command here)


Jangan marah lah kalau aku cakap sesetengah writers macam tak pernah belajar buat karangan.

Waktu kita baru bertatih membuat karangan kat sekolah rendah, mungkin kita boleh dimaafkan kalau kita describe kesedihan sebegini:

-Aminah rasa sangat sedih sekali. (darjah satu)

-Aminah tidak pernah rasa sebegini terluka seumur hidupnya (darjah dua, and some novelist actually still employ this childish sentence)

-Kesedihannya yang telah cuba dibendung sekian lama tidak dapat ditahan lagi dan perlahan-lahan air mata Aminah jatuh membasahi lekuk pipinya yang pucat. (darjah enam)

But as you grow up, as you enter your secondary school and have had lots of experience with doing essays, melampaulah kalau nak describe kesedihan dengan cara yang bosan dan straighforward macam tu lagi.

Tapi, itulah yang masih ramai orang buat dalam novel. Tak der seni langsung! There are sooo many ways to describe the same thing. And they each gives different effects to the readers. So, as a professional novelist, they should think about that sort of thing. 

Maybe they can try:

-Walaupun hatinya bagai disiat-siat belati tajam, Aminah tidak sekali-kali akan menangis meratap kehibaan. Dia memandang mereka dengan sorotan matanya yang mencengkam. Bibirnya digetap kuat menahan getaran. Pada zahirnya, mungkin dia kelihatan tenang. Namun di sebalik sebaris senyuman, ada rasa duka yang tidak terucapkan. Lalu dia mengalih pandangan, biar air matanya berguguran tidak terlihat orang.

ALL of the styles above give the same message; Aminah is sad. Tapi, setiap style ada effect yang berbeza. It’s all in how you elaborate your point.

2) How to say “I love you for your kindness.” in many different ways.

– You are very kind and that’s why I love you. (darjah satu)

– Your kindness has beckoned my soul to surrender completely to the mercy of your love. (tingkatan tiga maybe)

-I care nothing for the poverty of your purse so long as your heart overflows with affluence, and that, my dear, is why I love you like no other. (university, sastera writers)  

But you see, sesetengah novelis masih menggunakan ayat darjah satu untuk buat description. Tu pasal orang semua pandang rendah pada novelis dan mengatakan “Aghh, aku pun boleh tulis cerita macam ni!” Kalau pun diorang tak mahu menggunakan ayat2 berbunga macam sastera, tapi sekurang-kurangnya elaborate dengan mantap.

3)Describing beauty.

-She was the most beautiful girl he had ever met in his entire 30 years of living. (ordinary, boring, should be improved)

-I took one look at her…and then I forgot to blink. What was it about her that I forgot to breathe? Was she pretty? When she smiled, she certainly captured the interests of many. Was she attractive? When she laughed, everybody could not help but sigh in the wonder of her beauty. But was she for me? Alas, I took one look at the twinkle in her eyes, and the niggling doubt overwhelmed me.

This second way of describing beauty is a much better elaboration. Because it describes the heroine’s beauty and also his feelings about her beauty. His feelings of wonder in one moment and inadequacy in the next. And tu bukan ayat sastera pun! Itu cuma a better elaboration.

Bukannya aku cakap: “Ah, my vision is blurred by the golden, shimmering beauty of her person. The twinkles of her eyes remind me of a diamond in the first water. One look at her, and my heart is lost forever in the maze of love.”  INI baru ayat sastera.

Dan aku faham penulis2 romance fiction selalu defend themselves by saying, “Kenapa? Tak boleh ke kami mendidik dengan ayat yang santai dan mudah dibaca?”

Yes, I understand that sastera memang ayatnya berbelit and not straight to the point. Bukannya aku nak suruh semua orang pakai ayat sastera tu. Sastera tu sasateralah. Fiction adalah kategori yg berbeza. But like I said, kita kena ada standard lah sikit. Tak payah guna ayat sastera pun tak apa, tapi takkanlah nak guna ayat buat karangan time sekolah rendah pula. Kalau macam tu, apa bezanya ‘a published novelist’ compared to budak2 sekolah?

That should be enough demonstration that I am not against love stories or romance. I am against the childish way people still construct their sentences. I am against the ‘ too simple’ way people elaborate their points….hinggakan langsung tak berbekas di hati.

Memang tak adil to romance novelist kalau orang cakap ‘semua cerita diorang sama saja. tak original langsung!’. Sedangkan dalam setiap genre pun, sangat jarang ada plot yang bombastic. In fact, many good writers settle with very ordinary plots. 

It’s the elaboration that counts! And that should be every writer’s aspiration.

2 thoughts on “Different Ways of Saying The Same Thing!

  1. Nia Azalea

    ada sorang pembaca datang blog. tinggalkan link ni. komen sorang blogger pasal novel2 cinta melayu alaf21. kata yg tinggalkan komen tu, dia bengang kat blogger ni koz pandangannya terasa bias. aku dah baca blog die. tapi aku sendiri pun tak tau nak komen ape.
    if u have the time, why dont u have a look.


  2. afizaazmee

    OMG, whoever that was, she was quite vehement in her dislike (if not hatred) of Malay novels by alaf 21, don’t you think?

    I hope I don’t sound like that. I really hope I didn’t sound so holier-than-thou, when I was making my literary observation. If I did, and thus causing a few heartaches among Malay novelists, I would extend my deepest apology. I guess…I still have some more to learn on the ‘how’ instead of the ‘what’ when it comes to giving my opinion.

    Reading her blog certainly gave me something for thought. And that is, I dislike her ‘how’.

    Come on Kak Long, seriously what do you think about that blogger (and me?). Were we too harsh? You have never been shy of sharing your opinions….pls don’t start now. hihihi.


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