Writing That Connects – Choose The Opposite of Vague

partly submerged message in bottle
partly submerged message in bottle

Writing That Connects

This post is about writing. More than that, it’s about connection. Actually, it’s about connecting with readers through writing. To be explicit, this post is about how being vague in writing only hints at connection and doesn’t create a lasting impression on the reader. Are you with me? Are you getting interested yet? Writers and readers both want writing that connects.

In a previous post, I cringed as I wrote:

“During a particular tricky point in my life when I didn’t know what to do …”

I cringed because I knew I was being vague. I did it intentionally because I didn’t want to get into the nitty gritty of the situation. The focus of my post was on the outcome, on how I got through, on how to stay positive and keep on trucking through life. But I cringed because I wondered if my core message would fall flat because I didn’t hook the reader.

Choose the Opposite of Vague

I attended an excellent presentation by storyteller, Kindra Hall, at the Toastmasters International 2017 Convention. Kindra offered several tips for finding and delivering the great stories of our lives, but one outstanding tip for me was to not be vague in storytelling … because it doesn’t connect.

For instance, take a look at these three sentences:

  • The food smelled amazing on every corner.
  • Every corner brought the smell of Indian or Greek or Italian cuisine to my nose.
  • My stomach rumbled, and every corner offered tangy tzatsiki with fresh-baked pita, deep-fried pakoras and warm naan, or basil pesto pasta and garlic toast.

Which of these makes a deeper connection with your sense of smell? If you want writing that connects, be the opposite of vague. Be explicit.

Explicit and With Care

I kept thinking about that vague line I’d written and how I might have written it differently. But I’m realizing that it takes more than courage to share a story. My stories are not only my stories. Sometimes they involve others. Each person in a story has their own perspective, their own memories, and their own story around a situation. It can be difficult to reveal the details of a story in a single sentence. There may be too much left out; it may leave too many unanswered questions. It takes care and compassion to share a story without inadvertently hurting those that were a part of it.

I’ve been living and sharing on the surface of my life for several years. Writing that connects feels like a good next step. Toastmasters helped me build the confidence to go deeper with my storytelling, and writing my first book was a game changer. I was careful about not going into the depths, content to stay somewhat afloat, aware that there are readers who don’t want to go any deeper than I dared. My message still feels bottled up.

With my 2018 memoir, I’m going deeper.

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