Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tight Lines

Hello, everybody! Although I’ve been writing for fifty years, I’m still nervous as I contribute for the first time to The Storyteller’s Inkpot. However, to paraphrase our MFAC theme of “Immerse Yourself,” here I go, immersing.
I’ve been on the Hamline faculty since January 2009 after speaking first as a guest writer in January of 2008. At that time I urged the audience to have “tight lines.”
In fishing language “tight lines” means to keep your fishing line taut, so that it is straight -- not limp, no excess line floating about -- in the water. This allows the fisherperson to be more sensitive to the fish’s nibble or jerk at the succulent bait on the hook and thus be more apt to catch it.
In the same way, a writer should have “tight lines,” so that each word is taut, exact, and succinct, yet offers the reader the most alluring bait -- titillating scenes, appealing characters, strong plot, evocative sense of place, and tantalizing sensory details -- to hook the reader’s interest, pull him/her into the heart of the manuscript, and land em, still mesmerized, at the end.
Tight lines!
Eleanora E. Tate, February 1, 2012


  1. Welcome aboard the Inkpot, Eleanora! Oh, how I love "tight lines." The phrase is cemented in my heart for many reasons. One reason always sticks with me--when a fisher person wishes good luck to her mates. So, I wish tight lines to y'all. Carry on, y'all. Hook those readers. And never forget to be kind to yourself, perhaps with a piece of fresh mahi, topped with mango and cilantro chutney and coupled with a dry and oaky chardonnay. While the late Etta James plays on and on into the wee hours...

    Thank you for the privilege to blog with y'all! And, above all, thank you for this community. Tight lines.



    1. Welcome Eleanora! This is a wonderful debut to the blog. This metaphor is so helpful in writing. I remember your first lecture about the "tight lines" and have heard fellow students reference it since. Thanks for sharing it here!!

  2. Mell, your sense of using "tight lines" to offer good luck bears witness with writers as well.
    Cheryl, you have a marvelous memory, as befitting a writer, by remembering when you heard me speak of "tight lines" so long ago. Thanks!
    Polly, I'm glad you like the phrase. What might be other phrases applicable to the writing world?