Single themes

When you think back to all the books you’re read over the years, and all the movies you’ve seen…which ones to do you remember best?

The stories that stayed with me are those that offered a single theme or a single goal Every chapter or theme built on to that single premise.

Stories that quickly come to mind or Aesop’s “Tortoise and Hare,” Dickens’ “Christmas Carol,” and Twain’s “Celebrated Jumping Frog.”

Aesop’s story is about a race; Dickens’ tale is about mending one’s ways; Twain’s tale is about a contest.

Today, whenever I sit down to write I ask myself two questions: (1) What is the focus of this story? and (2) What conclusion do I want the reader to draw from it?

One single specialty?

My Dad, a newspaper and magazine editor, often told the story of standing at a graveside funeral service when a tombstone caught his eye. The stone listed the person’s birth and death dates, then these three words below that: “He grew peaches.”

Dad said it made him realize that many people get recognized for a single skill or accomplishment. When I mention the names Christopher Columbus or George Washington or Charles Lindbergh, what accomplishments immediately come to mind?

Before I write an essay or column, I write a word or phrase that I want that column to emphasize. With that as my goal, I can then determine the writing pathway I want to take to reach it.

Take a look at Rix’s new book: How to Sell Ideas With the Minute Message