February 1, 2018
8 Weeks | $315
We all want connection. We want to know that we’re connecting with others, and we hope to make it easy for others to feel connected to us. Nowhere is this more important for writers than the relationship with their readers. As a writer, if you don’t make that vital connection with your readers in the first few paragraphs and keep them engaged throughout the essay, novel, memoir or short story you’re writing, like magic, the reader disappears. In today’s world of constant texts, social media, blogs, and words flashing on screens, we have only a moment to capture the reader’s attention and, once we do, only a few more moments to gain their trust and hold onto it.
In this class you’ll learn some common-sense ways to create that vital connection:
- Staying aware that writing for readers is truly a two-way street
- Understanding the words, phrases and tone that can turn readers on and/or off
- Understanding the words, phrases, and tone that can invite the reader into your writing
- Developing and cultivating your authentic voice so that readers will want to come back to your writing over and over again
- Recognizing that questions, rather than answers, are the key to connection
Writing to connect with readers on the page is no different than speaking to a live audience or talking to a friend—there’s really only one central element–tuning into the reader’s interest, rather than your own, and keeping that front and center.
Week One: Identifying Your Audience
The moment an idea first arrives in your mind is the time to begin to think about the type of reader who might be interested in learning about your topic, in reading your story. Tools are available for this process; market research, the study of archetypes, the worldwide web, the Enneagram, and self-inquiry. Assignment: 1) List three ideas (current projects, fantasy projects, areas of interest) that you want to pursue with your writing; 2) Choose one idea and write a 400-word summary/synopsis.
Week Two: Knowing Yourself and Why You’re Writing
One major reason, as writers, we fail to connect with readers is because we are focused on ourselves and what we want to communicate rather than on the reader and conveying the universal truths that connect us all. Knowing ourselves and what’s driving us to write then enables us to reach outside of ourselves to include the reader in our quest for writing, whatever it is. Assignment: Write a mock Q&A interview, focusing on your passion for the idea and why anyone would be interested in reading it. Ask yourself the following questions (100 or fewer words for each answer):
- What was your inspiration for this idea?
- Where does your passion for this idea come from?
- Who is your audience for this piece of writing?
- What will draw the reader into your book, story, article, blog, etc.?
- What is the universal truth you want to convey to your reader?
Week Three: Cultivating a Voice that Connects
Our voice is our personality on the page—you want to invite and welcome your reader in.
Learn to be true to yourself while honoring the reader’s need to know, understand and have her own point of view. Assignment: Write a 400-word blog piece on a controversial part of the idea you’re working on. Or come up with a new idea that you know could create controversy.
Week Four: Learning to Modulate your Tone
We can preach, we can defend, we can expound, we can make the reader laugh. Our tone can turn a reader on or off. Learn to be aware of yours. Assignment: Write a 600-word opinion piece on your idea or another issue you feel strongly about.
Week Five: Pacing your Words to Create a Sense of Rhythm
Slow pacing can put a reader to sleep, fast pacing can wear her out. Find the most effective pace and rhythm for what you’re writing so as to keep her with you. Assignment: Using the idea you’re working on or a new idea, write either a fast-paced fictional or real-life action scene or a fictional character’s or your own slow-paced internalization or find a way to mix the two—action and internalization. (800 or fewer words)
Week Six: Asking the Right Questions to Bring the Reader up Close
Questions can put the reader on the defensive, but knowing the right questions can give the reader the opportunity to explore with you. Learn the value of questioning and exploring rather than expostulating and teaching. Assignment: Write a 700-word persuasive essay that challenges the reader to explore a specific question with you related to the topic you’ve been developing or come up with a new idea to persuade readers to think about.
Week Seven: Fiction: Creating a Three-Way Street Between You, Character, & Reader
When writing fiction, it’s up to you, the writer, to create a connection between your protagonist and the reader. This is done with voice and viewpoint, as well as learning how to develop your main character’s arc. Assignment: Using the idea you’ve been developing or another idea, create a fictional character, put him in a scene with at least one other character, and let him act out an aspect of your idea (800 words).
Week Eight: Connecting with your First Reader—the Gatekeeper
If you want to publish your work, your first reader is the gatekeeper—the agent or editor. Is the gatekeeper connecting with your writing? When self-publishing, without a gatekeeper, it’s even more important to consider how your writing is or isn’t resonating with readers. Assignment: Write a 500-word personal essay about what you see as your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to connecting with readers on the idea you’ve been writing about. Or just in general.