Posted in 2017, Writing, Writing Tips

Amateur Writing Tip: Feel what you want your reader to feel

This tip comes from a quote from Robert Frost, the poet who wrote such poems as “The Road Not Taken” which has been immortalized as a saying, “Mending Wall”, and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. I think this quote is immensely helpful in writing, and you will see why when you read it.

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

-Robert Frost (1974-1963)

The meaning behind the first part of the quote is obvious. If you want your reader to tear up when reading your writing then you yourself need to tear up when you are writing it. This is one of the reasons why memoirs and fiction that deal with the personal experiences of the writer can become so powerful, because the writer was feeling all that emotion while writing this form of literature.

The second part is kind of harder to understand. How can the writer be surprised by something they had already planned out ahead of time? My answer to this, though there is the fact that I may be looking at it the wrong way, is that you can be surprised by something you have seen coming a mile away. If you have friends who throw you a surprise birthday party and they are bad at keeping secrets, you will still feel surprised despite the fact that you knew all along. The definition of surprise according to Google is “an unexpected or astonishing event, fact, or thing” and one of the synonyms is shock. Something does not need to be unexpected to be surprising, it just needs to be shocking, sudden, and/or amazing.

So in the end this quote basically says that you should feel the things you want your readers to feel when reading your work. The things you feel while writing will become a part of your finished work. If you end up using the method writing approach to make yourself feel a certain way be careful, you don’t want to go down a rabbithole you can’t come back out of.


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