Monday, September 21, 2009

Supporting Your Point

I've often seen topiaries shaped like birds, animals, or cartoon characters. Expert gardeners take a plant or flower and turn it into something whimsical and eye catching.

Plants are trained to grow around wire frames and take on various shapes. As writers, we take words and wrap them onto examples, illustrations, and stories. These tools are the framework upon which our concepts, ideas, and points are made visual.

There is a danger, however, in using these methods. If we put too much emphasis on an analogy, we run the risk of overshadowing our point. I've seen examples and illustrations taken to an extreme by readers, and they lose the real message.

As writers, keep the focus on a specific point instead of running down rabbit trails with the analogy or framework. Let's help our readers to understand the purpose of our examples.

Have you ever read a story, blog post, or devotional and forgotten what point they were trying to make from the illustrations used?

24 comments:

Sharon Ball said...

It's amazing how easily we as writers lose sight of the point we're trying to make in our writing. I've done it before and I've read the work of other writers who have done the same. Thank you for this reminder, Susan. Hopefully, I can train my mind to be more on-point.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

I'm reminded, by your post, to get to the point with what I write. Don't take readers through the maze of words and leave them wondering how to find their way back to the story.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Oh, dear. Not only have I read rabbit trails, I have written them!

I took a chapter of my work in progress to the conference in June and several people who read it said, "You are trying to make too many points in this one chapter. I'm confused."

Oops.

Jody Hedlund said...

Very true, Susan. I was reading a book on the airplane home last night and there were analogies in every paragraph and it seemed to detract from the story for me, almost as if the writer was trying TOO hard to convey images. I think we need to use the metaphors and similies sparingly, like spices, not too much or too little.

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

Susan,
This is great advise. We need to get to the point and stay with the point. Thanks for this tip on writing. Have a great week!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Donna -

Yes, we can get carried away with examples and lose the reader. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jen -

As a devotional writer, I've had to give an example and make my point in 150 words. Talk about making every word carry its own weight!

Who said writing was easy?

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jody -

I really like your analogy about the spices. We can go overboard with too much of a good thing.

Now, that would have been a great title for this post: Too Much of a Good Thing.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sharon -

As a SOTP writer, I have to be particularly careful. My mind goes off in twenty directions if I give it free rein.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Brenda -

Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting. I post here Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Check out Wednesday's post for a chance to win Jean Fischer's book.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Karen Lange said...

Getting to the point - yes, what a wonderful reminder this is. I do find it easy to ramble sometimes. I've also read many things that left me wondering if I'd blinked and missed the point. Thanks for keeping us on target, Susan!

quietspirit said...

Susan:
I find the word count will limit my mind wanderings. But I know what you mean. The first novela I wrote went through several rewrites becaus the story went everywhere in the first paragraph.

Terri Tiffany said...

A clear point in the message is key! Thank you for a great reminder--loved how you did it.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Karen-

LOL! Now, if I could only keep myself on target with my novel!

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Quiet Spirit -

When I have under 1,000 words, it's easier to control my wanderings. 80,000 - 100,000 words - that's another story. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

Thanks! I've had that thought floating around my head for awhile. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Jessica said...

Great question Susan. I'm not really sure, but I know I do this when I talk. I start out with a point in mind and then somehow I get on a ramble. It's probably pretty annoying to people who have to listen to me. LOL But I'm trying to fix it.
Thanks for bringing this up. :-)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

I don't think it's as jarring when we speak as when we write. There's a natural ebb and flow to conversation.

Glad you enjoyed ACFW! Welcome home. I'm looking forward to your conference posts.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Actually, I have, but not too often. I think subjectivity comes in here. Unless I can relate to it, the meaning just doesn't come through. Thanks for sharing this, I must be more general sometimes to reach more readers, I think.

Jill Kemerer said...

I love topiaries. Whenever I see one, I pause and drink it in. But you're right, we can lose focus in our writing--everything should come together to make our point.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Eileen -

Good point. If I can't relate to the analogy, it won't have the impact intended.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jill -

I've seen some lovely ones at Disney World. Yet, without the plants, all you have is a wire frame.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Carla Gade said...

Sometimes a side character lends their perspective to a situation with way too much detail. Instead of supporting the point, it gets top heavy and I become focused on that character instead of the original character's situation.

I'm glad you brought this up. Something to be mindful of. What a wonderful word picture that stays on the point ~ the topiary. Maybe I should get a little one for my desk!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Carla -

I love your idea of placing a small topiary on your desk as a reminder!

Thanks for stopping by. :)

Blessings,
Susan