You experienced it. Can your readers?
Earlier this week I took my first step into freelancing with an
article about ending a friendship. I received two whole responses. One
reader praised my article’s moral of “don’t let negative people be in your
life.” Another reader responded that I my sadness and hurt were not totally
It got me to think about how different reader’s perspectives can be. While I
can write about my experience, each reader will take away a different message
than what I may have intended. One reader may not dealt with a bad best friend,
to use the example of my first article, so they would read my testimonial as
vindictive complaints. Another reader may be a friend who has treated her friend
badly and they feel quite defensive over such accusations that I made.
Of course there will be some readers who will get your overall theme, bless
them. They keep us going. But what can we do about the in between readers who
have vastly different points of view than we, the writers, do?
How can you be clear in personal accounts? The emotional side has to be taken
out to some degree and the situation assessed from an outside perspective.
Granted, if you are writing a personal diary that no one else will see, feel
free to express nothing but emotion if there is something bothering you. It will
help in the initial brainstorming phase.
Once you have an idea for you public post, then you have to ask yourself,
“what have I missed?” Not everyone will understand that waiting by the phone for
30 minutes is a big deal if you forget to mention that there was a hurricane,
your house was flooded and the police were knocking down your door in the
meantime. Not every play-by-play detail is essential but as a writer you have to
create a broad enough perspective so that the reader can take in the whole
With that said, there is a difference between detail and excessive detail. No
reader needs the “and then this happened and then this happened” kind of prose.
You need to keep what works in and what is awkward, unnecessary or plain too
much information out. Details that are too personal are usually best kept out of
a public piece. But it’s up to the writer to know what needs to be included in
order to get their overall point across.