“I find that most people know what a story is until they sit down to write one .” —Flannery O’Connor
My college English professor once told me that I wasn’t an interesting read.
His task was to teach me the tactical aspects of writing, but he also felt—as my audience—that he had the duty to critique the content of my papers to help me reach my full potential.
It was tough to hear, but it helped me think from the audience’s perspective. It moved me from, “This sounds like something fun to write about,” to, “What would appeal to him?” It paid off.
My next paper was based on something he’d said in passing about an event in history many believe never happened. Using my words, I grabbed him by the hand and took him on a journey through the data I’d collected while navigating the paths, structures and remnants of Auschwitz.
That paper garnered me an A.
As he walked through the aisles passing out the graded papers, he told the class that one student managed to do something no other student had ever done before—make him cry.