One of the good things about having an entertainment background is the ability to apply it to other areas of your life: new careers; new locations; new acquaintances. In writing, this ability can be invaluable in more ways than one. However one is all I’m going to talk about today.
Back a million or so years ago, I worked in radio…as in on-air. I think if you grew up with a radio in your ear, knowing how it felt on the receiving end of the frequencies, you kind of got an idea of who, what, and where your listeners were almost by osmosis. And then there’s that microphone/hearing your own voice being broadcast that triggers something inside your head and makes you able to communicate in a pseudo one on one relationship.
At first I stumbled about unable to really figure out what I was doing. Then one day, it hit me. I was talking TO people, not AT them. So I pictured them, one at a time, listening as they went about their days—driving, doing dishes, cooking, laundry, reading and I began talking to them. That was the key—to engage them as if I was talking to them, keeping them company, making them laugh, etc., make them happy and keep them interested.
Right about now you’re thinking “Okay, so you’re an ego maniac disc jockey, so what?” Well the “what” is that I think you can do something in a similar vein with writing. Perhaps as authors you already do this. I don’t know and if I’m beating a dead horse, kindly let me know. Or perhaps you do it and just don’t articulate it or really even become conscious of doing it while you’re doing it…this is where I come in…at “it”.
“It” is picturing that reader on the other side of your keyboard and monitor who (hopefully) is lapping up your wordage like a thirsty puppy on a hot day. Do you think about them (the readers not the puppies) as you’re writing? No? Why? Is it too distracting from your writing? Does it give you the weird willies to think that way? Or do you just assume whoever picks up your prize winning novel will be entranced even against their will?
Personally, I do it all the time. Maybe it’s just from old habit or maybe it’s something I learned to use to adapt to change and for effective communication. Again, I don’t know. All I know is that I do it. I picture my reader(s), usually one at a time, holding my book (yeah, I’m still a paper kinda’ gal), facial expressions changing as they read and react to certain passages or dialogue, grinning or tearing up or whatever emotion I’m trying to stir in them. And I do this while writing. Not before, not afterward, but during. I think maybe that’s the key here. You’re telling the story to people, not at them.
This doesn’t have to be or even should be such a major part of your writing process that you are distracted by picturing all these people with Kindles or Nooks or good old paperbacks reading every word as you type it; rather it should be a small awareness in the back of your head. By all means if this causes you problems, disregard this and go back to doing whatever was successful before you read this post! You may not be able to use this concept; hell you may not even like this concept. Again you are free to chuck this idea back into the garbage bin of my brain and dust your hands against one another thinking “Good riddance!” Bravo for you, independent thinker! I like people who can decide on their own as well as those willing to give new ideas a try without too much recalcitrance.
In any case this is just something I thought I’d put out there for you as yet one more writing assist. If you already do this, let me know, if you plan to do this, let me know and if you plan to chuck it out the window let me know—and let me know the reasons for all three!