Monday, December 26, 2011

A Story for We

People say that a writer should imagine he is writing to one person, much like he would if he were writing a letter. The idea is that by doing so he will avoid the problems caused by trying to say too many things to too many people. But I see something wrong with this idea. Imagine, if you will, that you have a mother-in-law that you can’t stand and you have chosen to write to her. So, in your story you begin to point out what is wrong with everything she does. When she reads the story, if the theme is obvious, she will take offense. That is probably why some people have the idea that we shouldn’t have an obvious theme.

Sometimes, we intend for people to be offended, and that’s okay, but just because we don’t want people offended doesn’t mean we must not have an obvious theme. Instead of writing your story to her, write it to we. Find a way to include yourself in your audience. Instead of venturing into areas you know nothing about, look for common ground. Don’t tell your mother-in-law what she should be doing, but find things both of you should be doing and write about those. People are much better about taking advice when they know you are talking about yourself too.