Home Forums Circularity MIKE STRAUSS: Chat Questions, Session 3

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      Michael Strauss


      Another great session. It should by now be evident that narrative is a powerful tool that takes work to achieve. These sessions are pretty intense with lots of material coming at you. Take some time to let it “settle in.” Rather than dive right into revising what you are working on, take a walk, exercise, even take a nap (we can these days without “the boss” wondering what we’re doing!). Then come back to the material with fresh eyes. Many of the best writers would tell you that their most difficult problems were not solved “pen-in-hand” but on a walk through the garden.


      Robert: Randy’s last point sounds important. It may be quite difficult to know what people know already and what their ordinary world is.

      Too often we are afraid to set up the ordinary world thinking we’ll bore a knowledgeable audience. Think of it more as being sure you and your audience all begin on the same page. If it’s closer to an inner group it need not be long…but it must be there. This is also where the “if…then” can be extremely powerful as it hints to the audience where you intend to go.


      euan: May take quite a b it of effort and care to find the agreement.. when dealing with the farming community  have found staggering perspectives I would never have guessed. So if you miss “agreement” with your audience your stuffed???

      I have seen people find the agreement in a physics paper…if you can get even two physicists to agree on something farmers (where most of my work is) should be easy! Seriously, that’s why it’s important to know your audience.


      DELL: Is it important to have the actual words And, But, Therefore in the statement or can it be other words that have the same general meaning?


      Park Howell: I think of the And, But & Therefore as narrative buoys that help you navigate a foggy story. When you’re just learning the ABT, use these three words. They may feel stilted once you get the hang of them, but your audience has no idea of the story structure you’re using while you’re making it exceptionally easy for them to digest your story. Use those buoys to safely land your message in the foggy harbor of communication. 

      And for me, most often I find that I prefer to leave them in…


      Julie Claussen: How do we know we have the “right specifics?” Scientists are told we are often too specific OR topics are very complex… what is the key for finding the best specific(s) to focus on.

      It seems to come back to some basic questions. In this case, which best advance the narrative?


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