Thursday, October 27, 2016

Drive into Experiences with Words

During days of algebra, my teacher advised me to "show my work." She wanted to follow my calculations to the answer.  So, I showed my ideas by writing all over the page. Chuckling at my comments that took the place of  numbers, she handed the paper back with a red C- and said, "You should be a writer."

Now I advise my writing students to take their readers on a bus ride.  I ask them to drive the bus into an experience for the reader rather than acting as the tour guide and pointing everything out. This means don't go on and on about thoughts and feelings or share opinion. 

Drive into the drama of the situation and reveal the story. Unfold and unravel the details rather than tell them.

The reader needs a thread to follow in order to connect with a writer's weave. Sensory imagery that involves sight, sound, scent, and taste will interlace to deepen the texture of a story or poem.  Metaphors and similes provide images by referral or comparison.   

Detail the squint in a person's eye or the thump of a fist on the table. Show the frustration of a step into chewing gum.  Reveal the thunder of a friend's mood.  What does lightning in a bottle represent?

Drive the bus into experiences for your readers. 

What does stubborn look and sound like? Search for sensory imagery and a metaphor to show it.  

Let the readers connect with their insights.

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