Let’s imagine you own a house and Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club, is describing your backyard.
In Chuck’s world you can’t just have a backyard with green grass and some shrubs.
No, you have a backyard full of skunks, piss-ants, mole-holes, and every blade of grass has been doused in yesterday’s anti-mosquito fog that’s attached to a bright red truck and schoolkids chased around the neighborhood trying to get high off the fumes.
Skunks, piss-ants, mole-holes, and truck-spraying anti-mosquito fog are rare events that don’t happen all at once. But in Chuck’s world rare events are condensed, jammed, and un-packed into colorful sentences that make you think it’s an interesting world. That’s the important part.
Chuck Palahniuk doesn’t suffer from the “speaking in conclusions” syndrome
If Chuck is on one end of the spectrum, “speaking in conclusions” is the other. We’ve all seen bad writing or bad story telling, here is an everyday example:
Q:”Hey how was the movie?”
A:”Oh it was good.”
A:”Yeah, it was kinda long, but yeah I enjoyed it. Lots of explosions and stuff.”
If you notice, none of the sentences above unpack anything. A bunch of toss-away sentences that mean nothing. “It was good” could mean anything. No imagination. No emotion.
If you’re a copywriter, salesmen, building a network, or you just want to be more interesting in life stop speaking in conclusions. You can thank me later.
Be unpredictable. Unpack sentences you want to emphasize. The beginning of this blog post has you imagining what it would be like for Chuck to describe your backyard.
Bonus: How to snap a reader out of their current reality
This tip comes from Chuck Palahniuk 36 essays on writing. Some of the best writing tips that I’ve ever found where in this guide. If you can find a copy its well worth the read.
Whether Chuck realizes it or not, the technique described below uses a form of “pacing.” You’re pacing reality and describing the what’s happening around you or the subject:
In fiction writing, there’s an old saying: When you don’t know what happens next,describe the inside of the narrator’s mouth. Or the soles of their feet, or the palms of their hands. Any physical sensation that can evoke a sympathetic physical sensation from the reader.
It’s one thing to engage the reader mentally, to enroll his or her mind and make them think, imagine, consider something. It’s another thing to engage a reader’s heart, to make him or her feel some emotion. But if you can engage the reader on a physical level as well, then you’ve created a reality that can eclipse their actual reality.
The reader might be in a noisy airport, standing in a long line, on tired feet – but if you can engage their mind, heart and body in your story, you can replace that airport reality with something more entertaining or profound or whatever.
If you want to be more interesting writer (or you want to dig futher) you will have to pick up the book, “Impossible to Ignore” and read Chuck’s 36 writing essays. These two together will make your speech or writing more memorable.