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.