Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Keep it Real

Net's Notations: All About the Reader Series
Keeping It Real

The sunshine poured over my reading nook, making even the pile of laundry awaiting me seem peaceful as I listened to the earlier load tumbling in the dryer. As long as I had sunshine, I’d be fine. Sunshine is all I needed.

Okay—it’s a little corny, isn’t it? Yes. And that’s the point. To be relatable (our theme from last week’s Net’s Notations post), we have to keep it real.

Laundry isn't sunny and sweet! And stay-at-home authors get to do their share. So, why gloss over it? Why paint it pretty? It’s a task. It’s work. Face it without refacing it!

That’s what we have to do with our writing.

Over at Net’s Book Notes today, I’m hosting Peter Lundell for his book “Prayer Power.” As I was introducing him on the blog, my words were kind of glossy. Then, immediately, in his first answer to the interview questions, he talks about being real with his readers in the approach he took with his non-fiction book. Ouch! So, I retraced my steps and fixed my mess.

We have a choice:

Fiction or non-fiction can be glossy, unrealistic, canned. But how does that honor our reader? It’s rather insulting, actually, achieving the opposite effect. Readers will throw your book against the wall—not the response you’re hoping for as you build trust with your readers.

So, how do we keep it real? Well, it doesn’t mean glorifying darkness or even complaining (like with the laundry—honestly, I’m thankful for working equipment. I don’t have to dig out a washboard and have a go in the blazing sun for a few hours of back-breaking labor). We don’t want to glorify sin, violence, etc. But, like in life, we can’t pretend they don’t exist.

For your genre, you’ll have to figure out where the lines are. You can write a whole lot more graphically in suspense than in sweet romance, for example. What you don’t want to do is insult your reader by being too sweet—too unrealistic around the truth of things.

Has there been a time in your writing when you’ve found yourself glossing over the situation or not digging deep into your own experience for the emotion and then had to go back and fix it? Tell us about it. Maybe someone can learn from your mistakes.

Whether writing fiction or non-fiction, keep it real. That’s one way we respect those who pick up our books. It’s all about the reader.


  1. Annette,

    I soooo agree with you!

    I personally can't handle books that are to sweet and sappy.

    I think from relatable characters and situations, readers may be given hope that they, too, can overcome disappointments and obstacles in their own lives.

  2. Annette, this is my first time to your blog. I appreciate what you wrote. It encourages us to be real! Thanks.


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