My daughter is a Christian missionary in Costa Rica with her family. She's also a prolific writer who challenges the establishment-Christian view of the world. Her refreshing and controversial views have drawn a huge following--over one million hits on her blog! I'm told, a minister in Germany even contacted her for permission to quote her blog in his sermon.
Now, don't get the wrong idea. She's not a religious finger-waiver; quite the contrary. Some consider her language crude and offensive. Others love that she has the courage to speak in "real" terms, complete with profanity on occasion, rather than the pastor-approved Pablum dished out for politically correct sheeple.
Why mention that here in my writing blog?
"Jamie - The Very Worst Missionary" (as her blog is titled) provides a valuable lesson for writers. Her following includes those who love her, AND those who hate her message. Likewise, successful storytelling relies on impact with readers. Good writers master the ability to create emotional connection. Anger, joy, sadness, hope, fond memories, curiosity, titillation, horror . . . feelings created in a reader mean that the writer connected; that his or her prose impacted, as it should.
Is there a secret to achieving such effect?
Again, I refer to my oldest daughter's writing as an example:
Notice that she writes from the heart. It's almost as if she and the reader are sharing a cup of coffee and sitting in the shade at a sidewalk table while she spouts off between sips, slurps or, yes, un-lady-like gulps. Her passion comes through using ordinary language and phrases, not pretentious words found only in national spelling bees. Hemingway had this gift; the ability to write for the common person. Again, the lesson for those of us who aspire to successful storytelling is simple. Effective writing is about creating emotional connection with readers.
Vocabulary choices, sentence structure, building plot and vivid character development serve only one purpose. That is to reach inside a reader's heart and mind, and to wrench them from their current reality into the subject of the storytelling. Jamie does it. We should too.