3 Ways To Bond With Your Reader
How detailed do you get when you have to write about uncomfortable situations?
Do you shy away from them, or dive deep into the characters?
Do you use your own experiences to bring more realism to the writing, or do you try avoiding these experiences because they’ve been too painful in the past?
To bond with your readers, its important to dive deeper into the details. Some writers may skip over a scene in a chapter because they’ve had similar painful experiences. You might subconsciously believe that the reader is going to judge you for the life you’ve given your characters. Whatever it is, there are three ways that author John Yeoman outlines that can help you overcome this:
1. Accept that people have felt almost all emotions.
There’s very little you can tell people that they haven’t felt themselves.
The days of readers being ‘shocked’ by revelations in literature ended with the 19thcentury.
Even then, their shock was mostly sham. Privately, Victorian readers lapped up the indiscretions of Madame Bovary, Moll Flanders and Tom Jones.
Write those scenes of pain, scandal or revelation well, and your readers will relate to them. Because chances are they’ve experienced something like it themselves.
Or they know someone who has.
Those scenes are true.
2. Don’t think that scenes of intimate confession will reflect badly upon you.
Readers fall in love with authors who, through their characters and events, disclose their own fallibilities.
UK novelist Sharon Bolton has publicly admitted that she writes her gruesome crime scenes to exorcize the demons in her own soul.
Do we think the worst of her? No. Readers rush to clasp her hand at literary events and her novels are bestsellers.
US crime queen Patricia Cornwell portrays herself in her bitter, tormented heroine Kay Scarpetta.
Few readers would like to meet Scarpetta in the flesh but Cornwell has so many adoring fans, she has to hire bodyguards when she appears in public.
3. Use the painful scenes as opportunities for personal growth.
Creative writing has often been prescribed as therapy for people who are stressed.
By writing out difficult experiences, we gain control. We structure them. We impose order on random pain.
So we own it.
The secret here is not to wallow in reminiscence—at least, not beyond the first draft.
Go back. Edit it ruthlessly. Crisp up those long tortured descriptions.
Anguish piled upon anguish will bore the reader. Read it again in a few weeks’ time and it will bore you too.
Pack all that trauma into just one eloquent line. Then pain becomes metaphor. (We can handle metaphor.)
And move on.
That’s what our own lives should do, after periods of stress. Creative writing helps us do it.
But ruthless editing is the key. Be your own best friend. Spill it all out. Rein it all in.Then move on.
Writing can bring up past memories, emotions and experiences. We can face them, put them to paper, and give our characters more depth. It reminds me of a comment a friend of mine made about his method acting. “Every character I play has a bit of me in it. My emotions, my fears, and my secrets. By tapping into what I’ve been through and acknowledging it, I find the audience will always bond greater than if I had decided to guess what the character should be. The audience can smell authenticity.”
Are you going to put more authenticity into your writing? Is it painful when you do? Leave a comment below.