You’re slaving away to get your memoir in the hands of others. I know you are laboring, toiling, grinding away—because I’ve done it myself. Twice. It’s a lot of work but if you persevere, in the end, you’ll find your effort so worth it!
One motivation for telling your story is this: You want to bless your readers in any number of ways—you want your story to inspire them in their lives
to never give up, never quit fighting, and always hopeto make good choices and be trustworthy people of integrityto speak up when something’s not rightto always love, always forgive, and always extend graceto grow in their faithto laugh and love—to love God and others
The list goes on and on.
But all that depends on whether they can understand—really understand—your message.That’s why lately we’ve been talking about clarity. We need to write clearly and concisely if we want readers to (a) read our memoirs and (2) understand them—to get all the richness and wisdom and blessing out of them.
That means you and I need to find—have a good grip on—that clarity ourselves firstSometimes that’s a problem. I’ve read thousands of passages written by others in rough draft form and it’s very revealing. And convicting.
Because here’s the deal: It’s easy to read someone else’s writing and spot all the gaps in communication, the confusion, the words and sentences that leave me confused.
When that happens, I stop and re-read sentences, paragraphs, and maybe even pages, trying to make sense of the writer’s message, trying to figure out what his point is
It often comes down to this: The writer doesn’t know what he’s trying to say. (And by the way, that makes it pretty much impossible for me to edit or critique the person’s writing.)
Jesse Hines says it this way: Before you can write clearly, you have to be able to think clearly. A big reason [writers fail to convey] their message is that they were not focused on a clear messageGood writing usually stems directly from clear thinking
Ask yourself, then, “Am I thinking clearly?
Do you know the point of the paragraph you’re writing? (Click on What’s the point?) What purpose does it serve? Where do you want it to take your readers—that is, does it take readers from one significant point to the next significant point? Does the passage hold relevance for the main point of the larger vignette or experience?
If you’re confused, your readers will be confused, too. Outlining your paragraphs (and the ideas and points within each) should help you think more clearly, rearrange words and sentences, and delete others.
Figuring out what you want to say is only the first step. Next, you need to write with clarity
Take great pains to be clear,” wrote C.S. Lewis. “Remember that though you [can] start by knowing what you mean, the reader doesn’t. . . . It is terribly easy just to forget that you have not told the reader something he wants to know—the whole picture is so clear in your own mind that you forget that it isn’t the same in his.” (C.S. Lewis, Writing Advice, “To a Schoolgirl in America”)
So, there you have it for today: Think clearly, write clearly