Saturday, November 21, 2009


By Keith Fisher

note: when you finish, check out the link at the bottom

Did you ever find yourself relearning things you should’ve remembered? As I get older, it becomes a ritual. I think it’s the reason lessons and sermons at church tend to repeat. Eventually we’ll get it, and incorporate those principles into our lives.

I realized the implication one day, when I read a repeated blog, here on this site. I knew it was repeated, because I wrote it the first time. Never mind, that it was better than mine. At first, I felt miffed. Then, I realized I repeat myself, all the time, in this blog.

As I said above, its good to repeat lessons, and review notes from classes, workshops, and conferences. Today I'm going to repeat. But I have a new twist.

While going over edits from my critique group, I remembered the comments made about a particular part. I wrote.

The razor blade was new and cut well. Brady could hardly tell he was shaving.

The comments directed me to remove it because it’s not important to the story. I listened, considered the counsel, and agreed with them.

Later I reflected on why I’d written it. Let me try and explain. To a man who shaves with a blade, the statement indicates it’s a good day. It says life is good and I feel great.

Considering my critique group are all women, They wouldn’t get it. Although they shave their legs, they’ve probably never faced a new day by staring in a bathroom mirror, lathering their beards, and dragging a dull razor over a tender chin.

Then, I thought about those men who’ve never used anything but electric razors. They wouldn’t get the point either. Of course there are children, and men who never shaved. Many people could read my book, and never get the point.

The image is powerful to me, because I know how it feels to have a good, clean, shave. It’s even more powerful, when I consider how hard it is to shave a full beard without cutting myself. It can be done, but it’s not a great way to start a day.

So I realized imagery is subject to interpretation, and an individual perspective. If I want you to know that Brady was having a terrific morning, I need to find a universally understandable way of writing it. It’s all about life’s simple pleasures. The feel of warm water on your skin while taking a bath, the taste and feel of sugar as it melts on your tongue, and sitting back on a soft recliner after a hard day of strenuous work. Your muscles begin to relax, and your whole body feels like it would drift away.

If your reader has never experienced these things, he/she won’t relate. Considering perspective is vital in our work of showing, instead of telling.

Good luck in your writing—see you next week.

PS check out my review of An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Petersen at A Writer’s Eyes


L.T. Elliot said...

I don't know. I liked the idea of a good, clean shave analogizing a good day. It's a simple thing and yet a human thing. I identify with those things (although I obviously don't shave my face. ;) and I think that anything can be made to be understood by a reader. That's one of the great bits of "fun" in being a writer. =] Of course, you have a pretty fab critique group and they're WAY smarter than me!

Kimberly Job said...

I agree, perspective is a great thing in all aspects of our lives, not just writing!