Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for uplifting

What might this be? Well, if something is uplifting - it raises us up to regard it. Generally, in my world, we look to create art, events, spaces that have a sense of upliftedness about them. If I'm having people over for dinner I make sure the entry way is clean and shiny - that I've put some extra care into the food and its presentation, that people will be comfortable and generally happy in our home. That doesn't mean we won't have challenging and stimulating conversations - we will. We will argue politics and religion and almost anything with verve and passion. But we won't let things slide into decrepitude - into surly diatribes or mean-mouthed rants.

How does that relate to revision? I think it means that in the revision process we do remember that we are offering this manuscript up and that we want to make it hospitable. That means that we neither talk down to our reader or try and mystify them with convoluted 'artsy' ways. We want our readers to look around and think - wow, this is interesting! I think I'll like the level of conversation here.

My fella and I like to watch comedians and we are quite fussy. It takes us moments to go 'uh no. He hates women (a surprising number of male comedians seem to fall in this category) or this guy or gal isn't funny - just mean. I think what we surmise is that they aren't uplifting. The ones we really like make us feel better for watching them - not worse. That isn't to say they have to have a Pollyanna view of the world - au contraire!  But if it is nothing but shallow cleverness or mean rants ...well we don't want it.

When you take a hawk's eye view of your manuscript make sure that if it is clever it also has substance. Make sure that your reader won't feel undervalued or mocked. Challenge your reader but don't bait them. Let them know what you want them to know without either hitting them over the head with it or making it like some convoluted treasure hunt of meaning.

Here's a drawing I did of an osprey - now that's uplifting!


Words A Day said...

Hope you dont mind Jan but I linked to your previous post, it was just so pertinent. Love your drawing :)

Margot Kinberg said...

I hadn't thought about revising that way, Jan - thanks for the new way of thinking. You're absolutely right of course. Revising means in part making a manuscript into a story that will lift readers up (i.e. really absorb them). I think it also means improving the manuscript superficially (e.g. spelling, grammar and choice of words).

Shirley Corder said...

Yes Jan, so true. It's easy to say what is in your heart - but is it going to touch your reader's heart too? Good suggestion. Also a good idea to use the word Uplifting for your U. I also used a verb: Understanding the African Culture.

Hart Johnson said...

Yeah, I really can't tolerate meanness either. In fact I am generally surprised when I DO like a comedian and this is why. I don't really want anyone (particularly not full classes of people) made fun of, though I can take a little of it if the comedian is self-deprecating. I don't mind DARK--I'm not sure I need actual uplifting, but definitely not mean. I like silly a lot. Or smart.

Susan Scott said...

How gorgeous and the osprey is clearly in uplift. Thanks Jan, you make the point well about the reader not being undervalued or hit over the head. Make it hospitable as if you're welcoming in a treasured guest.Thank you.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Oh so true! My husband and I are the same with what we watch. If it has no heart, or if it veers off into politicizing or moralizing we stop watching. Same with books. I love to hear the voice of the author come through and appreciate coming to know them and their viewpoint of things through their characters but it needs to be subtly done.