Monday, January 22, 2018

Knowing When to Stop - by Carol Ford


I love old Victorian movies and I’ve just finished watching The Barchester Chronicles. It is based on the Warden of Barchester, by Anthony Trollope.


Barchester is a small English community, and the clergy of a wealthy Church of England cathedral and hospital are the central players. With a change in the role of the Bishop, Rev. Harding, a Godly and gentle individual, who has been the Warden of the Hospital for several years, becomes the target of greedy and ambitious characters. There is a full range of evil motives, innocent love, female wiles and humour throughout the series.


 What struck me at the end of this drama was how, after several hours of programming, all the loose ends were wrapped in one brief dinner scene. Mr. Harding’s ambitious brother-in-law raised a toast to the gentle Mr. Harding and gave him a tribute for his ethical and kind behaviour, and then gave another toast to celebrate the engagement of Mr. Harding’s beautiful daughter and future son-in-law. Good won out over evil and that’s all we needed to know.


It might have been nice to see the grandeur of the marriage ceremony and so many other outcomes, but after a fairly long and twisting tale and it was time to end the program.

 Do we know when to stop.....

Talking in an interview?

Closing a sale?

Ending a story?

Finishing a speech?

Sharing information?

We often keep writing or talking well past the position of effectiveness.


I was privileged to receive feedback on a chapter of my memoir from Marina Nemat, author of Prisoner of Tehran. Marina teaches memoir writing at the University of Toronto. She commented in several spots in my writing, “We get it!” I think too often I try to tell the reader how they should feel, instead of creating the emotion from good narrative. What about you?

  *Marina is an amazing person, here is her website:


We’ve “got to know when to hold 'em; know when to fold 'em” like that famous Kenny Rogers’s song. (The Gambler Lyrics)


 Carol is writing a memoir about adoption reunion. She is a co-author of As the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian Writers & Speakers. 

She invites you to visit her website:


Peter Black said...

Thanks Carol, you are so right on! "Knowing when to stop" is not my forte, for in this regard I confess and offer an honest mea culpa.
It's quirky, I know, but I find it's much easier to gauge when it's time for others to stop, whether in writing or in public speaking and preaching, than to get it right myself. (Hmm, you know already who leaves the most wordy comments in this blog . . .) ~~+~~

Carol Ford said...

Hi, Peter, I love your 'wordy comments'. They make this effort worthwhile. Thanks again for the feedback.

Susan Penny Harris said...

I love Victorian movies too, Carol, the costuming, conservatism and regality.
Your post took me back to my teaching training in professor used a sitcom as an example. That we should look at how all the ends are tied succinctly at the end and apply this model to our lessons. One class period was 40-45 minutes long with double at triples at Advanced Level classes. And highest praise to Peter, who is not only the wordiest (and probably lost the title to mine in recognizing him in this comment) but encourages and supports every blogger.

Carol Ford said...

Hi, Susan. Thanks for your comments. Using a movie or sitcom is an excellent model for so much of our writing.I taught Training Techniques at a local college and also held a role as a corporate trainer. One thing that doesn't show up textbooks is asking for a list of expectations from participants at the beginning of training sessions and returning to this list at the end. Adults (and young people) like to have input on training content. Are you still teaching?

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

An astute observation about ending stories. I shared it with a fellow Toastmaster when we talked over her recent speech for a competition at the club. We can go on too long and tell when we've also shown. Thanks for sharing.

Carolyn Wilker

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