People are not magically gifted with the ability to read minds.
Sometimes writers forget this, especially inexperienced writers.
We writers see everything so clearly in our heads. Why don’t our readers “get it”?
Well, our readers can’t lift the lid in our skulls and peek into our brains. Writers need to lay down a path for our readers to follow. I’m not just talking novel or book writers here; I’m talking all writers.
We have to lay out the words for our Yellow Brick Road of writing to help our readers to get where we want them to go. Even those who write news stories or business memos need to do this. (Yes, you know you do.)
So how do we get our readers to frolic along our words to get to the Emerald City of understanding?
- Start out small. Don’t throw everything at your readers at once. If readers have a huge glob of information thrown at them, they will need to process it, and they might not do such a good job. Provide enticing tidbits to give them a chance to “taste” and process the information and then move on.
- Leave clues. Foreshadowing, overarching statements, and transitional words and phrases are great ways to move the reader along and pique interest. These, of course, need to be followed up with details.
- Provide the necessary details. Yes, we often forget that we need to fill in the blanks with specifics. Show the reader what’s in your head by using vibrant verbs, specific nouns, and awe-inspiring adjectives (and don’t forget appropriate adverbs!).
- Avoid detours. This is essential in business and other non-fiction writing. You don’t want readers drifting off to ideas that don’t apply to what you’re writing. There are times when you do have to provide a few side trips. Really good fiction writers do this all the time. The trick is to make sure the reader ends up back on that main Yellow Brick Road you’ve built.
- Make sure there’s an end. Show readers that – ta-da! – they’ve arrived. Have you ever read something that just stopped? It’s so unsatisfying. Even Dorothy and her crew ended up at the gates of the Emerald City.
By using these tips to “build” our “road” of words, we provide the magic that allows our readers to see the sparkling “land of ideas” that’s in our heads.
How do you write your Yellow Brick Road?