Eileen Flanagan reports:
"Assume that your reader is an intelligent person who wants to learn what you know. If you find yourself scolding or pointing out how you understand an issue better than everyone else, let that rant rip in your rough draft and then move it to the trash bin as soon as possible. If you are not sure if a paragraph sounds sanctimonious, it probably does. Ask a friend who disagrees with you to read it to be sure...[T]hink carefully about timing and balance. For example, the most shocking [predictions] about climate change come late in my story, when the reader has already had a chance to understand why I am concerned about it...Many memoirs and novels about injustice begin when the narrator is naïve. As details of the situation are gradually revealed, the narrator becomes increasingly concerned, bringing the reader along, too...Ann Lamott is the master of making us think about our own behavior by making fun of herself. Following her example, I described my own failed attempts to limit my consumption, like the time I fasted to prepare for my first act of civil disobedience and then decided to stuff a chocolate chip cliff bar in my mouth just as the police were coming from us. Turns out I’m chewing in every photo of actress Daryl Hannah’s arrest, including my New York Times debut. Including some funny scenes keeps your reader engaged through the serious stuff...Writing about problems doesn’t solve them unless you give readers a sense of what they can do...One of the things that is most striking about my book reception so far is that at least some people who don’t necessarily share my political views feel encouraged by the story of a woman giving up guilt and despair and moving to hope. It’s convinced me that people really are hungry for hope. Providing it is one of the ways authors can change the world."
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