Outsmarting Readers Is Wrong

A good writer gives space to readers to contribute and voids to fill to feel their value by adding their contributions.

I do not mean here only white space to help the reader or listener to comprehend more and to have a breathing space. I mean space also to add thoughts, experiences, questions, and knowledge.

I read posts and listen to presentations that are so “heavy” and overly filled with successive ideas. I need to assimilate what I am reading. This is similar to eating fast without enjoying the food in the mouth.

Readers will run away if they find they have to make an excessive effort to understand the author. They may even feel their imagination disturbed by what they read. The author may invoke in the readers’ minds memories that they want to live again. If they drop their imagination they shall get annoyed.

I experienced this recently. I left out many ideas on what the blue color means in my post “My Blue Journey”. The readers wrote comments that turned out to be more valuable than the post. We all learn by leaving voids for the readers to fill. I learnt as an author many beliefs about the blue color that I did not know before.

I realized that a very simple formula for writing is: to engage the readers make them feel they are also co-authors.

One approach that I use to tempt the readers to become co-authors is the use of metaphors. Readers’ imagination bloom if the metaphor is relevant. The imagination of readers vary and they fill the gaps the metaphor creates based on their knowledge, beliefs and mix of emotions.

I experienced the effect of metaphors reading a post by Elena Gabor. She wrote, “Words are like butterflies flying from our mouths”.

This metaphor of words flying grabbed me and triggered my imagination.

Words fly like what? Do all words fly like butterflies? Are words like birds some fly like eagles, others like butterflies?

I recalled a quote by Jay Woodman. The quote reads “words fly like stones into clouds and accelerate…” Insulting words may be the stones that accelerate and gain momentum only to hit harder. This is an awakening call for me to not accelerate the flying stones by not paying great attention to them. They may fall on me and I hurt myself and not the offender.

Again, my imagination stretched to reach another idea about words flying like stones. How about a flying bird throwing stones? To my surprise I did find an example. Sandhill cranes fly together while dancing. Dancing consists of bowing, jumping, head swinging and even throwing rocks and twigs into the air.

 “Stone the crow”. I say readers are like parrots. I do not ever think of stoning them.

You see that Elena Gabor sent my mind flying like what? I have to imagine again.


Ali Anani
Ali Anani
My name is Ali Anani. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of East Anglia (UK, 1972) Since the early nineties I switched my interests to publish posts and presentations and e-books on different social media platforms.

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  1. Very interesting viewpoint. I’ve read some poetry that was very hard to understand and digest like a bowl full of nuts. If I have to stop reading to look the word up well than…Not to mention the length is like a skyscraper. Imagery and metaphors is what holds my full bellied attention span. Words are like 🦋 butterflys speak to me as they flutter out of my lips graceful and creates a beauty on its own accord. When I can place myself in a story that I’m reading and imagine an ending then it’s captured my attention like an old black and white photograph. Humm there’s a poem here somewhere. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Thank you for your great appreciation, Eva Marie

      “When I can place myself in a story that I’m reading and imagine an ending then it’s captured my attention like an old black and white photograph.”
      Not only you felt owning the post, but also it inspired you to write a poem. For me this is the highest level of engagement.
      Please tag me when you publish. I am interested.

  2. My favorite metaphor on sound is “like hot cocoa for the eardrum.”

    Can writing be like hot chocolate? I remember reading Peter Hoeg, Smilla’s Sense of Snow, and yes, it had the velvety quality of hot cocoa. And I am not even ashamed of mixing metaphors.

    Do words fly like butterflies? if they are light and gay, perhaps yes. An elegy will not fly that way, and neither do most call center discussions come to mind. Will the words more likely be like the boula or the kiki? Imaginary words that people overall will describe as round or edgy/spiky resp. You can almost see it on the form of the letters.

    Now I have to go back to Hoeg and see if his phrasing contained many round and few spiky vowels…

    • Reading your Charlotte made me wonderif words haveshapes.

      Thank you also for the beautiful decsriptions you added.

      Words have sound. Could they all bbe ““like hot cocoa for the eardrum.”?

      Now, I havean idea for a post to reply to your wonderful comment.

  3. Ali,
    Your creative mind here has moved, touched and inspired me (again).
    Love the stories you bring to the table with such a clever and authentic voice.
    There have been several responses from you on some of my posts and for me, “Your words comfort me like a warm blanket on a cold night”.

    • You are so considerate, Carolyn.

      Your words went straight in my heart. You know I feel “chilled’ for not being able to find the words to match your loving ones.
      I am deeply touched by your deep spirit.