Making the Connection Between Writer and Reader

You have ideas as a writer, but how do you connect with your readers? One of the most difficult things to do is translate those ideas from your mind to someone else’s, but it is also one of the most important when it comes to manuscripts. Without the ability to connect with others on the page, they will not be able to learn from or be impacted by your words. So, until mind-meld technology exists in the real world, we have to make do with other methods, such as with storytelling. Throughout your life, you deal with three variables:
  1. Objects
  2. Information
  3. People
You have built countless experiences around these three things, and depending on the commonality of the experiences, you can relate them to others by the power of analogy.

Objects (On or in Your Path)

Have you ever banged your knee or shin on a low-lying table or other piece of furniture? This is an experience you can relate to it when hearing a similar story. You can relate to it because you know that being in pain is a terrible thing. You do not have to bump your shin to grimace and fully understand. Furniture, whether moving it, buying it, or running into it, is something common readers can relate to, and this is true for most physical objects. But what if you are writing about more complex information?

Information (You Have Learned or Have Trained Others About)

Information is something you can help others relate to as well. Not many people have piloted a spaceship, but complex processes have three things in common:
  1. A set of instructions or procedures
  2. Certain times tasks must be performed
  3. A learning curve
There are more, but any of the above can be used in one’s writing to relate a complex process to readers. Because nothing is perfect, spaceships and complex processes break down. Did any part of the plan need deviation? What decisions were made along the way and why? Readers relate to learning to innovate, or through frustrations, or schedules, or through the pain or fear of learning something new. It is all connected. Even if readers have not worked for NASA or do not understand how to work a particle beam laser, they can relate to stories about such things if the writer successfully translates information to the page. Readers will be able connect to the shared thoughts, feelings, and discoveries. And this all leads to one of the biggest sources for analogies . . .

People (Others Can Provide Examples)

Human experiences often involves other people, whether they are real or imaginary characters. Activities and circumstances are different for everyone, but other people and their faults and flaws can be highly useful. Observing surroundings, as well as reactions to situations, can help train this muscle. Have you ever had a child get sick on a school night? If so, can you relate that idea (that feeling) to people who do not have children of their own? Yes, because they will be able to see themselves in that ill child and can empathize with human suffering. Even though some of that example might be unfamiliar for those who do not have children, most of it is relatable. Part of the experience of being sick is the same, no matter the age.

Familiarity Is Key

As you move from familiar concepts to the unfamiliar, those unfamiliar parts are how you keep readers curious to discover more. Also keep in mind that every piece of the analogy you are drawing from and writing about does not need to relate to the reader directly. All you need is one connection. The closer the better, since that makes bridging the gap easier. With one solid connection, whether by object, information, or people, you can coax readers closer to the writing as you break down more of the idea. Readers will become familiar with the concept until they no longer seem as though standing across some wide chasm. You and the reader are right next to each other. If you can get that one big theme going, everything else will follow. What might you draw parallels between to translate your ideas into the minds of your readers?
Ty Mall is a Developmental Editor at Manuscripts LLC. He runs the Fiction and Copy Decoded blog and lives in the Midwest with a cat he suspects wants to adopt him.