Friday, June 20, 2008

A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS

We've covered the six keys that unlock your reader's memory, allowing them to personalize your story and fill in more details than you have space to write. Now let's explore another tool that will connect you with your reader- internalization. Essentially it's dialogue with yourself.

With internalization you allow the reader inside your head, inside your heart. This is the intimate part of your writing whether it is sharing a funny experience that only best friends share or letting them witness your vulnerability.

As an example, the following is an excerpt from my story, Down and Out, in Chicken Soup for the Mothers of Preschoolers Soul:

As I picked up the (baby) carrier and herded everyone down the hallway, I tossed a rueful glance at my reflection in a large mirror. Who was that woman? Dressed in a baggy sweatsuit, hair pulled back in a haphazard ponytail, no lipstick, no earrings. Before preschoolers I wouldn't have considered going out in public looking like that. I shrugged and wiped grape jelly off my cheek.

See how you got into my head? I let you into my thoughts, we connected on a more private, intimate level. Internalization gives depth to your nonfiction piece.

Next time: Dialogue.






Sunday, June 1, 2008

THE SIXTH KEY: EMOTION

Hi everyone! I’m on the road again! This time I’m taking my mom on her bi-annual trip to see her sister in Mississippi. Even though I can’t seem to stay home a full week at a time lately, I still try to keep this series going, however sporadic.

Emotion. This key is what really connects you with your reader on a very personal, vulnerable, level. Think about it. How many emotions do you feel in one day? How do you express them? On the written page this can be tricky. One thing to avoid is telling us the emotions. For example:

“I saw the spider and I was frightened.” That is telling.

“The spider scurried from behind the broom toward me. My heart pounded and I gripped the handle, my only defense from the hideous creature.”

In the example above the reader discern my emotion from my internalization (my thoughts) and the reactions of my body, (heart pounding, gripping the handle.) Think about it. With every emotion our bodies react. With ever emotion our minds react.

What does your body do when you are sad? What thoughts run through your mind?
When you are happy?
When you are angry?
When you are frightened?
When you are excited?
When you are lonely?
When you are disappointed?

Use these descriptions in your writing. You reader will remember similar feelings and connect with your piece in a much deeper way.

Now look at the piece you are writing and find places to use the key of emotion. Remember too much emotion will weigh your story down, use it like salt. Just enough to connect. Let your reader do the rest.

Next post will focus on internalization.