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Friday, October 6, 2023

(How to) Talk to Your Readers

 "You can make anything by writing." -  C.S. Lewis

Lewis, author of Chronicles of Narnia, was an advocate of using parentheses to “speak” to his readers.    I remember one of my South Dakota State University English professors saying to the class that Lewis provided “a pathway” for the readers to join in the story through his use of parentheses. 

Image result for the lion the witch and the wardrobe book
Image from the 1950 book cover

I think I was perhaps the only person in the class who hadn’t read The Chronicles – which were published in the early 1950s and, of course, still continue to excite readers of all ages.  But, as I listened to that professor express her great admiration for Lewis and this method of drawing his readers closer to his words, I was quickly enticed to not only read them but to grow to admire his technique myself.

For writers, parentheses do let you just talk to readers -- sort-of like an aside in theater -- and grant them the power to become participants.    But like any writing technique, use it wisely (as Lewis did) so your readers will not abandon you for being too gimmicky.    
“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing," said Lewis.  "It also depends on what sort of person you are.” 

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