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Monday, February 27, 2006


The Power of Simplicity

The past few days I’ve been on the road and away from email and phone. It’s been a challenge to get my regular email—much less find a second to blog. I’m hopeful the week ahead will allow a bit more consistency on the blogging front.

Last week, I was starting a new project. The experience has reminded me again of a common truth about writing: the power of simplicity. When you are writing a story, does the story make a logical progression? If you jump from the simple to the complex, then you completely lose your audience or your reader.  I was working with a person who loved to mix metaphors. His sentence structure went from talking about his work with an animal to a verse from the Bible to corporate scandals in business—and each subject switched and didn’t contain the connecting information to take the reader to this next level.

I was intensely following his conversation but I couldn’t make the jump from subject to subject without simple transitions. Over and over, I had to push this person to return to the simple story.  There is great power in telling a simple story with dialogue and action which takes the reader to a single point or takeaway. This power is demonstrated in a chapter of a book or the opening of a book proposal or a magazine article. It’s your task as the writer to guide your reader—and not lose them in the process.

John the Baptist prepared the way for the arrival of his cousin Jesus Christ.  His bizarre dress of camel hair with a simple leather belt drew the attention of an audience. His message was steeped in simplicity: Repent for the kingdom of God is near.

As you look at your own writing, make sure with each change or transition, that you take the reader with you. There is great power in simple storytelling.

1 Comment:

At 7:54 AM, Blogger Paula Left a note...

Thanks for the great advice. It has been a while since I visited your site. I'm going to be returning more often! Have a blessed day.

 

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