Integrating human elements into writing

The greatest story can be lost in the monotonous tone writers often take focusing more on a series of events involving names rather than a life story involving people. We tend to lose the relevance of the story on someone’s life in the academic world that focuses on such an emphasis on straight-forward and concise reporting. Both Laura Bush in Spoken from the Heart and Eric Rauchway in Murdering McKinley avoid such a drab depiction and successfully draw readers into the story.
I wish to emulate Laura Bush’s capacity to be honest while still maintaining literary beauty. While in high school, Bush caused a car accident resulting in the death of her classmate and friend Mike Douglas. In one of the more popular quotations from the memoir, she states, “I can never absolve myself of the guilt. And the guilt isn’t from Mike dying. The guilt is from all the implications, from the way those few seconds spun out and enfolded so many other lives. The reverberations seem to go on forever, like the ripples from an unsinkable stone” (64). Even someone knowing minimal background on the event can see how impacted she was by this event and can feel emotionally attached to the story. She doesn’t seek to complicate the sentence structure to emphasize importance. I struggle to be impactful with fewer words.
My academic author possesses the same concise, but effective story telling habits. Though I am only a few chapters into the book, Eric Rauchway tells the story of President William McKinley’s assassination with a pleasurable sense of ease. So often I find historical and political accounts to be monotonous and dreary. A particularly striking summary of the assassination sounds much more like it is coming from a fiction novel than a history text. He states, “McKinley straightened up, staggered from one potted plant to another, and collapsed, blood seeping into his pale shirt” (1). The same thing could be said as “McKinley was shot and collapsed.” The former is so much more appealing and visual. Rauchway makes reading history like watching a great movie rather than just reading a timeline.

2 thoughts to “Integrating human elements into writing”

  1. I too think that the ability to describe a simple act so eloquently and articulately is something to be admired. I especially liked your comparison of the two ways to describe McKinley being shot. They both say the same thing, but the do not show the same thing, which is the crucial different. I hope that I can eventually develop a style that allows me to provide better description while not being too wordy.

  2. I also struggle with being concise yet still effectively conveying the emotions that I wish to express. It’s often hard for me to describe situations without the use of many words. The example you mentioned above involving Laura Bush’s explanation of how she felt after the car accident that killed her friend encompassed so much emotion that one could empathize with her guilt, but used very few words to do so. Political and historical accounts are often written in an uninteresting way, but tell very interesting stories. I think that people would be much more likely to read these stories and learn this genre of information if it was written in a style similar to that of Rauchway.

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