Getting Specific

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A big part of writing is trying to connect with your readers – be they agents and editors reading your query, or actual readers of your book. Ideally, you want to your work to have a universal appeal, and connect with as many readers as possible. The question is, how?

Some people think the key to connecting is being vague. That by using broad terms you can connect with more people.

Take, for instance, this sentence: “I totally humiliated myself in sixth grade.” That should have mass appeal, right? I mean, who didn’t embarrass themselves in sixth grade?

Except, there’s nothing there to connect with. There’s no emotion, no stakes, nothing.

Now compare it to this: “In sixth grade, we went on a field trip in my neighborhood, and I told the whole class I knew a shortcut to get to where we were going, only I got us all lost and made us miss our presentation*…”

I’m going to guess you just winced. That’s because you connected with it. I’m pretty sure you didn’t get your class lost on a field trip, but you could connect with my embarrassment, and relate it to your own experience.

Now, part of this is showing versus telling, but part of it is giving the reader a specific event to connect with. In order to be universal, you have to be specific.

What about you? Are you guilty of vague of statements, or are you good at getting specific? Let me know in the comments.

*True story (slightly exaggerated to prove my point).

Want to make your writing more universal? See what tips @k_callard has to share. (Click to tweet)

P.S. Come back after midnight to check out the cover reveal for Michelle Hauck’s new book, GRUDGING, Birth of Saints Book One.

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