Immersing the Reader

Two things that really make a piece of writing stand out is how well it engages the audience and/or how much the creator has invested in it emotionally. One way to do this to use the senses, the other is to be unflinchingly honest. Either way latches onto our emotions and has us irrevocably attached to what has been produced.

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This is what you want, a reader oblivious to everything but the page in front of him.

Seeing as I am a writer I’ll use my own words and the senses as my first example. The girl sat under the tree. Freaking boring sentence isn’t it? Almost pained me to write it. The girl sat under the willow tree, the dirt and dead leaves sticking to her legs. Add in the sense of touch and it gets a bit better. Suddenly you can picture underneath the tree and what sort it is much more clearly.

Add another sentence. The girl sat under the willow tree, the dirt and dead leaves sticking to her legs. The willow’s fronds tickled as the breeze gently played with them causing a peel of laughter. Now you know she’s happy, even though it hasn’t been stated as such, simply shown through the use of touch and sound.

One more sentence.  The girl sat under the willow tree, the dirt and dead leaves sticking to her legs. The willow’s fronds tickled as the breeze gently played with them causing a peel of laughter. Bright sunshine and warmth filtered through the branches as if reacting to her presence. Now we know it’s day time and the weather is warm and so is this girl.

The above scene is pretty generic and by no means brilliant, but what it does do is use the senses to draw you in and make you wonder about her. That first sentence was as boring as watching grass grow and in no way engaged the reader. The audience doesn’t want to be told how to react to something, they want to be made to feel and the quickest way to do that is to immerse them into your writing, regardless of what type it is.

My second example is Constance Hall, a blogger from Fremantle, Western Australia. Constance is a big deal with over a million followers and has had a recent book published, Like a Queen. She writes that the reason for her success is because she loves her audience and I have to say that I agree 100%. Whether you are reading her blog posts or her book you can feel her honesty and that she cares. What she is writing is exactly what she means, no mucking around. It is a brilliant example of emotional investment on behalf of the creator.

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You can pick her writing apart if you care to, I don’t. This is simply because it would ruin the value of what Constance has produced. She writes from the heart, everything laid bare for her audience because she cares that much for them and they in turn care for her. Read her book, you’ll feel like you’re sitting down with her having a few wines (or ciders in my case) and chatting about life. If that isn’t immersion I don’t know what is.

So how to achieve that in your own writing? Care and don’t be afraid to show it. Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, if you don’t particularly care about the writing or something is holding you back from full on committing, the reader will feel it and consequently not care either. A truly great piece of writing stays with us forever and that is because it has pulled on our emotions. Don’t let fear hold you back. As that saying goes, shoot for the moon and if you miss at least you’ll land among the stars.

Happy creating everyone!

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