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Friday, June 01, 2012

How is Writing Like a First Date?


We've all heard it said that writing is a solitary pursuit. We can even visualize writers in ages past, slaving away in solitude with nothing more than a candle, a bit of parchment and a pen. In reality, writing is an endeavor built on forging relationships.
  • Between you and the reader.
  • Between the reader and the characters or subject.
  • Between you and the editor.
  • Between you and your agent.
  • Between you and other writers.
I'll go even a step further and propose that writing something for publication is like going on a first date!
If you think about it you'll see it's true. With writing, like first dates, the first impression counts. When you write your first line it’s your first impression, and many times it determines whether or not your reader will go any further in the relationship.
So here are some writing/dating mistakes to avoid.
Mistake Number One
One mistake we make is in how we present our story. We've all met people who try to give us their life story in the first thirty seconds we meet. It's not comfortable, and I often find myself running for the exit. This was illustrated in a popular episode of the TV show Seinfeld. Does anyone remember the 'Close Talker' episode? Sometimes we open our novels with too much information and we overwhelm the reader. There's a term for this, backstory.
Mistake Number Two
Another first date mistake we make in writing is found in non-fiction. We've all met the person who exaggerates everything. It's hard to take anything they say at face value. I've actually found myself verifying everything this person says, even if it’s just that it’s sunny outside. I can’t resist peeking outside just to be sure. We can come across that way in articles and non-fiction books if we aren't careful about where we get our facts. It takes time to do in-depth research, but the reputation we gain as a writer is priceless.
Mistake Number Three
The last mistake we can make is going on a blind date. I know there are exceptions to the rule, but for me, blind dates didn’t ever turn out well. The same thing can happen to us as writers if we don’t take time to get to know our audience. We have to have our audience well defined before we begin or it probably won’t end well.  This is equally true if we're writing books, articles or devotions.
So now it's your turn—how have your relationships with the reader turned out?

Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing blog, The Write Conversation. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. Married 30+ years to her high school sweetheart, Kirk, they have raised three sons.

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