Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Speak to your Readers

This is the second time that I have participated in Silver Threading’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday, so I can now call myself a regular! Next week, and the week after, I shall be on holiday on the Greek island of Kos, so I don’t intend to post. Maybe I’ll return later in August.


My choice this week has long been a favourite of mine. I have always circulated in a society that is deeply technical. Some of my friends and acquaintances can’t speak to people who are not part of the scientific society. Well, that’s not quite true. They can speak, but they are not understood. I find that appalling.

I have taught courses on good communication. One of the exercises that I set is to present the students with a technical article or paper and ask them to put themselves in the place of the author; the researcher.Then I ask them to write a postcard to their grandmother explaining what they are working on in words that she will understand.

While we are writing, authors should be thinking of our audience. We should be speaking to them, telling them our story. Speaking to them in words that they will understand. Do not be afraid of complex plots or characters, but tell the readers the story as if they were sitting there in the room in front of you. Always be asking them, “Do you understand?”

ThinkListening Crowd

“Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people”
W.B. Yeats

About Lance Greenfield

Blog: lancegreenfield.wordpress.com email: lancegmitchell@outlook.com I published my debut novel in December 2014: Eleven Miles. My second novel went live in February 2016: Knitting Can Walk!
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13 Responses to Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Speak to your Readers

  1. Marianne says:

    Lance, your quote is inspiring, and so true. Thank you for sharing.

    Blessings for a happy day,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Silver Threading says:

    Lance, what a great quote. It really speaks to me of people being able to relate to each other. The more down to earth we become the better we are able to show compassion for our fellow humans. Please share pictures of your trip to Greece. What a fabulous time you will have. I will have to live through your photos. ❤ We will miss you, but see you when you get back! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeats’ advice is sound and your example of how you get this across to students is quite illustrative. I used to supervise several graduate students as they worked their way through thesis drafts. We would sit around the research office and I would invariably say – hold it, cut all the ivory-tower-speak and tell me what your work is about, tell me like I’m your mom or your boyfriend who doesn’t have a clue. We writers of fiction can learn from Yeats’ words, too. Fancy, purple-prose does not serve us well. I am reading a novel right now where the author (quite a famous author, by the way) has used the word contiguous twice in the space of about 50 pages. How often does anyone ever use the word contiguous? Come on, now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good! We teach from the same book! I have thought about taking the exercise a stage further into the 21st century and asking them to explain it in a tweet: 140 character. That might be just too much!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love that idea! Maybe a tweet, then a Facebook post, then a photo for Instagram and finally, a blog post for a totally out of the loop audience.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It is much more difficult to reduce the number of word whilst retaining the sense, so my suggestion would be to start somewhere in the middle. Perhaps a one-page letter to grandma, and then head in both directions: towards a tweet and towards a blog post. I also teach them about creating posters and make them their own critics. But that’s a whole new topic!


  4. Pingback: Writer’s Quote Wednesday Weekly Wrap-Up from 7/29/15 « Silver Threading

  5. imanikel says:

    Totally loved the quote immediately I saw it and your explanation made it so easy to include the audience when next I’m writing something complex. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Lance! Love, love, love this quote! It’s one of the wisest quotes out there. Great choice!

    Liked by 1 person

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