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Techniques

Note 166 – Trust your writing and don’t deprive the reader


Whilst listening to William Zinsser’s non-fiction audio book today called On Writing Well, I heard the following: “Trust the information that you’ve gathered to make its own point.  Don’t explain why it’s interesting or unusual or emotional”.  Make your writing exciting, but don’t say it’s exciting; let the reader work this out for themselves. 

Zinsser suggests that you “trust your material” and yourself and let the reader “bring their own emotions and intelligence to your story [article, blog, etc.]”.  Once you have removed all the words that don’t need to be there, you can look back and see how powerful and strong your writing is.  If you explain everything then “the reader is deprived of the pleasure of making that discovery and readers resent that” says Zinsser.

As a writer, it can be difficult to stop yourself explaining everything to the reader, i.e. if you are making a point, don’t say ‘I’m making a point…’ and if it’s funny, don’t say ‘This is a very funny article….’.  Let the reader work this out for themselves and try to leave out your excitement or views.

Examples of how not to do it:

  • This is so hilarious… (let the reader read it and then say ‘that was hilarious’)
  • I learnt something so exciting today… (let the reader discover by reading your work that it is exciting)
  • An interesting point I found was… (just make the point and let the reader decide if it is interesting or not)
  • The sad thing about this story is… (your reader may not find it sad – let them come to that conclusion using their intelligence)

Try this out for yourself

Review some of your writing today and see how many unnecessary pieces of information you have added that don’t need to be there.   By giving your reader the concise and clean version, they can learn what they need to learn, understand the points they need to understand, and laugh when they find something funny. 

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog.

This blog post forms part of my writing challenge. Don’t forget that you can subscribe to receive my daily blogs by email so that you don’t miss any. Just click ‘sign me up’ on the home page. Alternatively you can follow my blogs on Twitter or my ‘Tips and LuxuriesFacebook page. Requests for future blogs (punctuation/grammar/writing tips) are always welcome.

Until tomorrow…

Sandra
Freelance writer
Please visit www.sandramadeira.com for more information on my services as a freelance writer.

My writing challenge

My other blog

My Tips and Luxuries website
(includes the introduction to my upcoming book ‘A Gift for Stressed and Busy Parents’)

Twitter: @madeirasandra and @tipsandluxuries

Reference list:

William Zinsser – On Writing Well (audio book), US

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About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Please let me know what you think of my blog - constructive comments welcome. Have a great day Sandra Freelance Writer www.sandramadeira.com

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Note 166 – Trust your writing and don’t deprive the reader

  1. That’s so true. It applies not only to novel/ short story writing, but also to news/feature writing.

    Posted by Just another wannabe hack | October 13, 2011, 11:12 pm
  2. I need to go back over my stories with this in mind. Thanks for the tips, newbies like me need all the help we can get. Thanks!

    Posted by Neeks | October 13, 2011, 11:57 pm

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  1. Pingback: Note 300 – Most popular posts since My Writing Challenge began « My writing challenge - February 24, 2012

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