One of my own toughest writing challenges has been to shake myself out of the impersonal aridity of academic writing and assume a more open persona. I therefore found this article in The Chronicle of Higher Education by Mark Edmundson, professor of English at the University of Virginia, helpful. Here’s his advice:
Slow down and make contact with a dreamier, more associative part of your mind.
Forcing yourself to type slower could improve the quality of your writing, a new study finds.
Participants in the study who typed with only one hand produced higher quality essays, researchers found.
The same approach of writing more slowly will also help people who write with pen or pencil on paper, according to the article. However, do not slow down too much, the article warns: “When people slow to below the rate of normal handwriting, their quality gets worse, previous research suggests.”
Novelist Tim Lott on
… the classic text Story by Robert McKee. The so-called “God of Story” (as Vice magazine dubbed him) has been explaining his theory of how and why dramatic narratives emerge for 35 years, to the fascination of playwrights and screenwriters – his alumni have so far mustered 60 Oscar wins, including, among many others, William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) Paul Haggis, Peter Jackson, John Cleese (who has attended the story seminar three times) and the entire writing staff of Pixar. However, McKee receives a more sceptical response from most novelists, at least, most non-genre novelists like myself.
McKee’s book is the bible among screenwriters and other folks in the movie production business. In fact, the subtitle of McKee’s book is “Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting.” But Lott says that many novelists shy away from McKee’s concept of story structure because they feel it goes against the grain of creativity and produces formulaic work.
The use of storytelling in the business world has developed into a hot topic. Here Gabrielle Dolan advises job applicants on how to use personal storytelling during a job interview to move beyond their printed resume and to make themselves stand out from all the other applicants. To demonstrate during the interview that you’re the right person for the job, she writes, “you also need to demonstrate your values and create a connection. One of the most effective ways to do this is by sharing a variety of work related and relevant personal stories.”
© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown