Thursday, February 17, 2011

Expression vs. Experience

Reading thuRsday

Why do we write?

Because we have something to say, ideas to share, and emotions to express. Because we need to be heard.

Why do we read?

Is it because we want to hear what someone else has to say?

Or listen to the ideas they want to share?

Or feel the emotions they want to express?

Well, not exactly. That is, most of us wouldn't put those things at the top of the list of reasons why we read.

As writers, one of the best ways to find stories is to, "mind the gap." In the real world, friction arises where things meet. In the world of stories, conflict arises where differing expectations meet.

Did you notice the gap, or potential for conflict, here between writers and readers?

And how, in our stories, do we resolve the problem created by a gap?

Someone must bridge the gap. One or both of the parties must adjust their expectations until they're in-line with the realities of the situation.

I suppose there are writers of such celebrity that people do, truly, want to hear what they have to say simply because they say it. That's not me, and I'm willing to bet it's not you. So given that there's a gap between one writer and many readers, who needs to change?

Fundamentally that advice to stop worrying about expressing yourself as a writer and focus on delivering compelling experiences to your readers is as fundamental as Dale Carnegie's advice to talk in terms of the other person's interest. Your readers only care about what's in it for them.

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn /