The fifth post for the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge, E Is For...Etc:
This doesn't mean we say less. It means quite the opposite. We obfuscate, we ramble and we waffle. The more we say in quantity, the less we say in content.
"Et cetera" translates from the Latin as "and the rest", but isn't it all the more revealing that we would take a phrase that already lightens the load and then abbreviate it to lighten the load even further.
One of the worst crimes committed in dialogue is clumsy exposition, but this does not mean exposition is inherantly bad. Good exposition finds a way for characters to reveal what is required at the right time and in a realistic fashion. Everything else is et cetera.
I don't mean that it has no importance, but it is the et cetera that gives a script or a story flavour. We shouldn't be dismissive of et cetera, we should embrace it. People can argue about plot versus story until they are blue in the face, but we learn more about a character when they stop to smell the roses than we do on busiest or most exciting day of their lives.
Incidentally, I distinctly remember the day I learned what etc meant and that sadly it wasn't the same day I learned what et cetera meant.
INT: A classroom. A group of children are reading from books while a teacher sticks their drawings on to colourful sugar paper and then staples them to the wall.
David: What's etc?
Teacher: Et cetera.
Teacher sighs heavily.
Teacher: Yes, David?
David: What's et cetera?
Teacher: Get on with your work, David.
There it was gone. The perfect opportunity to impart a little knowledge. A day to learn something that everybody has to learn eventually. And yet strangely in itself a great example of etc.