Give your audience some credit

Don’t you enjoy it when you’re watching a movie and they spoon feed you everything, explaining every little plot point so that you don’t have to wonder at all? And what about when you can see the ending within five minutes of the opening. It’s great, right?

Of course nobody thinks like that, in fact most people find it annoying when an author doesn’t give them a little credit. In fact, it’s a bit insulting to have any writer, book or screenplay, assume that you can’t read between the lines. This concept holds true for any format you can think of, including websites and ads.

So how does this happen? Are all writers pretentious artists that assume their thoughts are so complex that nobody can really get it without a little help? Well, sure, that’s part of the problem, but it’s not the whole picture. The need to explain oneself and seek common ground and understanding is a natural tendency.

Think about it this way, if you tell a joke and nobody laughs, you want to explain why it’s funny. If tell a coworker that you’re tired, you probably follow up by saying you had a bad night’s sleep. In fact, the reason you don’t want to reveal some things to people isn’t because of the ‘thing’ itself, but because you don’t want to have to explain it or discuss is.

As a writer, you should be aware of this tendency and actively work against it. Instead, simply trust that the audience can connect the dots you’re drawing for them. If you have any doubt, focus on making the dots more defined without adding more dots. You see what I did there?

All jokes aside, give your audience some credit and space to think about your words without jumping in to explain away the mystery. Not only will your writing be stronger, your audience will appreciate the fact that you have a little faith in their intelligence.