Today marks the anniversary of the stock market crash of 1929, which led to the Great Depression. It may sound like an odd beginning to a post on writing, until you consider one of the great American novels, The Grapes Of Wrath, was set during that time period. This novel is considered by some as John Steinbeck’s greatest literary work, and was required reading in school for decades.
A writer’s words can take an event, no matter how serious or it’s scope, and make it communicable. Children who read the novel got to see how some thought during one of the most challenging things America had ever faced up to that point. Communicating a thought, feeling, or the things that happened during a event through writing can be a very powerful way of reaching out to people.
To write about an event that you are passionate about, I would make these suggestions. First, before writing, try to recall it as much as possible, without any opinion whatsoever. Though similar, this is slightly different from approaching it logically, it is simply observing what happened. Some things you cannot be completely detached from, but try your best and record notes about it.
Solely from a writing angle, this is good, as it helps fill in gaps that a eye witness may not see. For example, you know why the blocks fell over, because you saw the cat run into the room. Someone who came later would not have seen that. This type of review will help you to know what details to share that won’t be obvious normally.
Next I would review it from a logical standpoint, not to defend or disagree with your already formed opinion, but just to get a different angle of it. As a writer, it may help you decide the tone, structure, and order you want to share your story in. Logic is not perfect, but it is a good means of building a structure, from there you can flesh it out more.
Thirdly, no matter how emotional, challenging, or emotional the story, I would suggest to end the piece on a positive note. Even if that note is the hope for a positive result from a negative situation, leave the reader in a good place. Doing this, whether they agree or disagree with your viewpoint, will be beneficial to the reader.
A writer is taking readers on a journey, much like a taxi driver, or train conductor. We are serving the readers, and cab drivers know you would not leave the reader somewhere they don’t want to be. When you take your reader to a train wreck, take them back to the station before the last paragraph. Endings in a story matter, and it’s important that the ending have at least some clear sky in it.
No matter the story, if it matters to you, it can be conveyed to the reader. They may not always agree, but they can understand your viewpoint. A writer’s greatest tool is not only the words they use, but the way they use them. Events large or small, common or obscure, can all be presented in a fashion that is memorable, which can last for decades.