Here’s one small thing worth doing after you finish recording your podcast or writing a blog post (or an article or a chapter or even a meaty Facebook post)…
For a few of my clients, I get to read through writing I’ve just edited or a piece they’ve already published, find the sentences that shine brightest, and then make social media posters from/for them.
This is way fun because it’s easier than it would have been just three or four years ago, as now there are vast libraries of free, no-attribution-required photos out there, like Pixabay, Pexels, and my favorite, Unsplash.
It’s danged satisfying when shiny words meet the right photograph.
The words become even more impactful, and the photo gains a context that may be totally different from the moment in which it was shot. I smile a lot while I play with these, and not only because it’s a pleasant break from working word-for-word.
And, ya know? When I can’t find a photo that fits, or I sense that the words would be somehow diminished or overshadowed by imagery, I create a blank canvas and let the words stand on their own. A simple layout with a good font and the text or background in a signature color can be just as impactful — and sometimes more.
Which is all to say: Sometime after you’ve recorded your podcast or written your blog post (or article or chapter or Facebook update), listen and look for those shining lines, yeh?
Don’t worry, you’ll know them when you see and hear them.
They’re the ones that carry an entire theme all by themselves. They raise a flag or ring a tone in your mind. You may even realize that the whole piece depends on that single sentence, that all you said leans on that one line.
When you find them, tuck them somewhere safe, make them into something, or both.
Those savory sentences are precious, really, and no less rare for writing more or more often. More writing doesn’t increase the odds of writing one, just the opportunity.
And if you re-read something you’ve written and don’t see even one great sentence, then pick a good one and rewrite it until it becomes great or compose something fresh and add it where it’s most needed — a powerful hook at the beginning, a powerful punch or twist in the middle, or a strong finish at the very end.
A reader will remember your work forever if you offer them just one great line to hold dear.
One of my favorites is from Josh Bazell, and it may not make sense out of context, but it’s stuck with me for years, particularly because of the compelling narration of his Beat The Reaper audiobook—
“Ahhh, youth; it’s like heroin you smoked instead of snorted — gone so fast, you forget you have to pay for it.”
There’s an entire book wrapped around that lament — his transgressions, the penalty, his penance, the payback, and his second shot at revenge. And, to my mind, the other 6 hours and 45 minutes (or 415 pages) are in support of that one line.
You have the whole story without having to read the book.
In whatever you’re writing or recording, however long or short, find that one prized sentence (or create it) and then hold it high.
Your readers will be compelled to read the rest, or they’ll know what they need to know even if they don’t.
Originally published on FB among Friends on May 1, 2018