Avoiding the Talk Trap

When we write, we tend to focus on feelings and reactions. We list emotions and justify them. We look inside ourselves and we "mindread" others.

Stop that.

You're falling in the "talk trap."

Instead, observe and report. Describe what the reader would see, hear, taste, touch, and smell if he or she were there. Don't tell us what people "felt." You're not them. 

Instead, describe the environment so thoroughly that whatever someone in it is feeling... the reader might feel it, too.

When you see Charlie Brown walking with his head down, you know he's depressed. Would you rather read "Charlie Brown walked away hanging his head -- again," or "Charlie Brown looked depressed"? Which is more engaging?

To ask is to answer.

I call this the "talk trap." Avoid it. Don't draw conclusions on our behalf, give us facts that lead us to the conclusion ourselves. 

Writing like this is a foundational element of professional-caliber work.


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