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The things we do not say out loud

Catch me alone at a party where I don’t know anyone. Ask me how I’m doing, and I’ll tell you I’m great. What I’m really thinking is “I’m trying to look perfectly at ease, but I’m feeling awkward as hell.”

There are so many things we don’t say out loud.

Enter the writer.

It’s our job to say the things no one’s willing to spit out. That’s what keeps readers coming back. They want to see themselves reflected in your pages; to know they’re not the only ones bumbling through life like self-conscious amoebas.

We brush aside the things we’re really thinking. It’s ironic. We hide the juicy center; the stuff that really matters; the stuff we wish we said before we stood beside an open grave.

“The essence of a story lies in revealing the things that in real life we don’t say out loud,” says Lisa Cron in her writing book Wired for Story. We must plumb the depths of our characters’ souls. “Ask (them) embarrassing questions … the more personal, the better. … Your goal is to allow them to be full, complete flesh-and-blood characters who, like us, are doing their best to muddle through against all odds.”

I was obsessed with reading people’s minds when I was a child. I wanted to hear their inner monologues — those torrents of words — and compare them to mine. Decades later, I’m realizing that’s precisely why I love to read. Books let you peak into the minds of others.

“Writing is easy,” they say. “You just open a vein and bleed.”

You say in ink the things you cannot say out loud. The next time you’re stuck, ask yourself exactly what it is your character’s afraid to say. The answer could be exactly what you’re looking for — no matter how hard it is to face.

Fredrick Marion

Fredrick Marion

I like books that refuse to let you sleep at night. I like coffee, talking animals and hearing from readers. Sign up for my email newsletter, and I'll send my latest blog posts to your inbox!

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