Monday, November 28, 2011

Finding Focus in Writing

Finding focus in our writing is a big challenge, especially when you're writing personal narrative. How do you whittle down a big life into one small story? My tips:
  • Use a metaphor/vehicle
  • Write a mission statement for your piece
  • Give the most space in your piece to the main topic (i.e. don't let tangents take over the story)
  • Set up the topic in the beginning
  • Make sure the end delivers on the beginning
For a more wholesome treatment of this topic, and a bit of conference vibe, listen in on the recording of my session "Finding Focus" at the writersandcritters conference. If you have more questions on this pesky issue of focusing your writing, let me know!

In case you're wondering, at the beginning of my talk I am referring to the story "The Bed" by Diane Hurles.

That's me checking my notes during my presentation
of how to find focus in your writing.


  1. These rules could apply to several types of writing, Annette. Thanks!

  2. Thank you so much for these tips Annette! They'll come in handy. Can we ever learn enough?

    I still can't get over how nice your new website looks. It's awesome! :)

  3. I tend to become unfocused while writing, setting out on unexpected tangents which confuse the piece I'm woring on. These are great tips. Thanks for sharing, Annette!

  4. Great tips, Annette. It's so easy to go down a bunny trail!

  5. Fabulous tip Annette - I will take them to heart! Thank you for sharing! :-)

  6. I'll definitely listen to your presentation. What I find difficult in focusing the personal narrative (and what my students had trouble with, too) was finding the point of significance, the answer to the "so what?" question. You have an inciting incident or starting point. You have the story of what happened. But what's the point? And what makes the story universal? Is that what you mean by "mission statement?"

  7. Diane, Karen, Sheila, LynNerdKelley, Natalie, Julie H. - glad to hear you found this useful.

    Julie F. - listen to the audio and then let me know if you have further questions. I elaborate on the mission statement idea a bit more but would be happy to clarify it more for you as well.