Words can persuade. Stories can connect. Narratives can impact lives.
I remind my students that as writers we have great power. And, as Uncle Ben tells Spiderman, "With great power, comes great responsibility."
We have the responsibility to observe the world around us. To dissect it and present it in a way that moves people. Helps others understand the connections and symbols that appear in our everyday lives.
Which brings me to the fourth method in motivating your Reluctant Writer:
4. Observe + Dissect
Writers get great ideas, fresh air, and exercise from nature walks. Or neighborhood walks. Have your young writer take a walk around the neighborhood and really pay attention like a writer. See normal, usual things in a new way. Look at everyday objects and try to discover the story they can tell:
The neighbor’s crooked fence
The empty rusted Coke can in the park
The kid on the swing, sitting alone.
Tell the story: ask “What if?"
What if the fence was crooked because there’s a quicksand trap on the other side? (Why would it be there? Who are they keeping out, or keeping in?)
What if the fence is crooked because it’s old and worn, like the woman who lives there. Have a girl scout go to the door to sell cookies. (What would happen? Would they become friends?)
Writers notice the details. We use them to infer ideas in our stories, we use them as symbolism and metaphors. We use them to enrich our stories and make our characters seem living and breathing, we use them to make our fictional worlds come to life. We add details that non-writers would miss.
Start to notice things around you:
How your home looks, smells and feels to visitors:
Is it comfy and worn-in? (what does it say about the people who live there?)
Are there rooms where the children aren’t allowed? What about pets?
Do the bathrooms always smell of pine scented air freshener?
Are there school pictures of you on the fridge from three years ago?
Focus on facial expressions and gestures of people close to you:
Does your older brother roll his eyes at everything you say?
Does your mom use a high pitched phony phone voice when she answers calls?
Does your dog go berserk during a certain time of night?
How about family interactions:
Where do you eat dinner? Does your family eat together?
Do you decorate the house for different holidays?
Is there a topic that always causes arguments in your household?
Noticing details in our world not only helps us become better writers, but better humans. Writers can seen the pain behind someone's smile, notice the hint of sarcasm in a reply, catch the torn cuticles and chewed up fingernails on the kid who always seems so cocky and confident.
Writers have an edge in life and by sharing the details we notice. We bring society together.
Tomorrow in part 5 of the Reluctant Writer series, we'll discuss the Writer's Journal - why every writer needs one and what to write in it.