Christian Writer Training Course 1, Lesson 6
One is successful in the task of communication when one is able to convey information in such a way that if captivates the audience and produces the desired effects. I have told you so far that for successful communication you must develop sincerity, conviction and a genuine burden to help your readers. Also, you should know who your audience is. In addition to all the above, you should use appropriate language.
Using the correct language includes using simple, natural, and accurate expressions. I have already given you several suggestions about how to make your writings simple, natural, and accurate. The next thing — to enhance communication — is to use an attractive presentation.
Make Your Presentation So Attractive That People May Not Feel Like Keeping It Down !!
You should use an attractive presentation to capture their attention. It is true that the increasing literacy levels is producing many new readers every day, but this does not mean that they will automatically read anything and everything presented to them. Even though there is now a large number of literate people in our country, we should realize that more and more printed matter is competing with each other every day to get a share of their time and money. By the time you become a successful writer, a still larger number of publications will be chasing the same market which is not growing at the same rate. Consequently, only those publications will get read that are attractive enough to capture their attention.
The first thing which captures their attention is the title of your writing. Whether it is a brief article or a multi volume book, the title is the starting point. If it is attractive, your writing gets a second glance. If it is uninteresting, then you lose the potential reader even if you have created a masterpiece. Consider the following pairs of title. Each pair shows two ways in which the same article or book has been titled.
a-A Collection Of Proverbs
b-Wisdom Of The Ages
a-A Guidebook To Encourage Everyone
b-Yes, You Can Do It !
a-Developing An Awareness About The Aborted Fetuses
b-Children — Things Thrown Away !
a-An Account Of The Sins Of Omissions And Commission In Government Offices
b-Wickedness In High Places !
Each pair talks about the same subject, but in each one the second title is more catchy. Making your titles attractive is not very difficult. Spend a little time to think up a good, attractive, or catchy way of expressing it and the job is half done. The remaining half of the task is to make the body of article equally attractive.
The text of your article should be written in such a way that it keeps your reader awake and glued to it till the end of your writing. This is not impossible, but it does require regular effort from you. You will learn a lot about it in forthcoming lessons, but the best thing to do till then is to read and reflect upon the writings of those who have already mastered the art.
Write On Subjects Of Common Interest: If your writing is to communicate with people, not only has it got to be attractive, but should also be of some interest to the intended audience. (Many Crusaders write upon subjects in which no public interest is seen. But such activity belongs to the experienced writer, and you will study this kind of writing only at a more advanced stage).
So much printed material is competing for the reader’s attention today that only what touches upon their concerns will be picked up and read. Every generation and every community of people have their own needs, interests, problems and pains. Any writing that touches upon these subjects will, obviously, get immediate attention. The rest will, in all probability, get ignored.
Have you ever noticed how the common man reacts to a philosophical monograph ! He does not touch it. Even the name “philosophy” is enough to scare him away. Yet when a philosopher spots the same book, his eyes sparkle and his face betrays excitement. The difference can be explained by one’s relation to the subject. What’s related to one’s needs gets attention, but what’s of no immediate concern gets rejected even if it is written in the most brilliant manner.
Subjects related to spiritual, social, academic, nationalistic, or personal concerns always capture people’s attention. Subjects of immediate interest like entertainment, politics, political crisis and hobby development also get immediate attention from people.
Subjects that require long-term involvement from the readers also capture attention, if chosen with insight. For example, subjects like managing one’s finances, overcoming depression, becoming socially attractive, and capturing the attention of people, always manage to catch reader attention.
Even in this materialistic world plenty of people will take interest in spiritual and moral themes if the subjects are presented properly. Many articles on spiritual themes are finding place in present-day secular publications because they have some substance, and are written in a professional manner. Since man’s quest for spirituals is never-ending, this theme will never go out of demand.
Many Successful Writers Have Discovered That Food, Health, Relaxation, Etc. Are Subjects Of Great Interest. Christians Can Discover Similar Ever-abiding Biblical Subjects !!
Different audiences have different immediate concerns. The housewife is worried about nutrition, the teenage boy about acceptance by peers, the teenage girl about her excess weight, and the newspaper editor about the important news of the day. What is food to one might be poison to the other. Therefore you should know your audience first, lest you end up praising to horrified vegetarians the benefits of meat eating.
The best thing to know your audience and their interests is to study the publications for which you write. Study their emphasis, the direction of the editorials, letters to the editor, and — most important — the guidelines to authors issued by those publications. Once you identify the audience, it will be relatively easy to identify subjects that interest them.
A beginner in the field of writing might find himself struggling to discover subjects for writing, but if you implement the suggestions given in this course you will discover lots of interesting topics. In fact a time will come within three to five years of writing when your diary will be flooded with so many suggestions and topics that you will not be able to do justice even to half of them.
Once you are submerged in reading and writing material, it will be good to choose a few fields for concentrated writing. Do not try to become a jack of all trades because soon you will be reduced to a master of none. With that you will lose your market appeal as well as value. Further, if you
do not focus upon a few areas, the direction of your writings will disperse so much that your name will not be attached to anything. Do not underestimate the importance of such an attachment. If others can associate your name with at least a couple of subjects, your writings will be read with greater eagerness.
Develop A Rapport With Your Readers: No one-way communication in the world can last very long. Some sort of mutual interaction, howsoever little it might be, is necessary to keep the relationship alive. Since all writing is communication, a certain minimum interaction with the readers is essential. Unless this mutual communication is there, the writer has no way of knowing whether his writings are relevant and whether people are benefited by these writings.
A two-way communication between the writer and his audience is easier said than done, but there are many tried and proven methods to overcome this difficulty. The easiest way is to keep an eye on the “Letters To The Editor” and similar columns where feedback from readers is published. If any of your writings touches their needs, helps or motivates them, they will mention it. You should watch such feedback for quite some time because sometimes people start writing to the editor only after reading several of your writings, or even several months after a particular writing helps them.
Researches estimate that for each person who writes to the editor, there are ten to fifty who want to do the same but do not find it possible. This means that each letter represents at least ten to fifty of your readers who have similar feelings. If it is a letter of appreciation, good; if it expresses disapproval or hostility, consider whether you did something wrong. Above all this, try to see what else they want to read from you. Sometimes the clue might be hidden in a single phrase buried somewhere in that letter.
Some editors, specially those of small-circulation or newly published publications, will be very happy to pass on information about reader-response to you. The best way to get this information is to write a polite letter of inquiry to the editor after a few of your writings are published by his publication.
It Is Great To Develop A Rapport With Your Listeners !!
Another way to interact with your readers is by reading about their problems and aspirations. Read all letters, feedback, and comments published in the periodical of your choice. Study what they say and what problems and pains hurt them most. Then see whether your present writings touch upon these subjects, or whether you might be able to write something significant on those topics.
Last, but not least, keep your eyes and ears open to people. Even social conversation or a passing compliment paid by a friend (about one of your writings which he happened to see) can give you a lot of information.
Keep striving. Communication is your ultimate aim, and that you must do if you want to be a successful writer.