Diamond jewel on blue background

Crystal Clarity

So, you’re watching a really awesome video online and you think to yourself, “My friend Soziso would really love this.”  You notice Soziso is online, so you drop him the link and go back to admiring the beautiful imagery playing out before your eyes.  You just know Soziso is gonna love it.  A few minutes later, he pings you and says, “What is this crap?”  Your jaw becomes unhinged and hits the floor.  You thought you knew Soziso, his likes and dislikes, and this video is so far up his alley, there’s a Bentley parked at the exit.  “You don’t like it?” You text back.  “Video lags, picture’s garbled,” he responds.  Now you begin to understand.  Sozi lives in India and the Internet connection can sometimes be a gnarly bitch.  Plus, Sozi’s computer is a relic.  He’s not seeing the same video quality you are, so how can he have a similar experience?

Hardware interprets software.

This presents an important lesson for writers.  The images and impressions you see in your mind when you write are interpreted by your hardware (your brain), but readers will be using their own hardware to interpret your words.  This is what makes clarity in writing such an awesome (and sometimes loathsome) responsibility when it comes to editing and revision.  It’s also the reason your writing can attract so many different opinions and viewpoints, no two people are using the same hardware to interpret your software.

The best you can do is attempt to achieve the highest point of clarity you can find by evaluating your work objectively.  Is there any chance someone might misinterpret this sentence?  If so, play with it until it becomes clearer and more suited to your original intention.  If a beta reader expresses confusion over any part of your work, consider this opinion stamped in gold, because it is.  While this section of writing may be clear to you, someone else’s hardware is having difficulty interpreting your software.  Set ego aside and do your best to fix it.  As a writer, you must learn to sacrifice ego for the strength of the story, because story comes first and no story can survive a lack of clarity.


Author of Devil's Edge, The Future Queen, and J.J. Houston: Murder on Moon Street. I live in Rhode Island with the love of my life, two menopausal tomato plants, and several purse-snatching poltergeists. I love to read. I'm an archaeology buff, I poke around in science and physics, philosophy and art, and I enjoy gardening. My favorite movie is Fried Green Tomatoes, I listen to movie soundtracks while I write. Like Garfield, I will absolutely chase my own shadow for a pan of lasagna.

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Posted in Process, Writing

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