Help Your Child Bring Feeling into Writing
I tell parents not to ask their kids for feelings in writing.
We don’t actually want feelings (these are usually label words that don’t get at the heart of the experience). We usually ask for feelings because what we are reading feels wooden or dry. What leads to better writing is a more expanded address—addressing the topic by showing, rather than telling.
So instead of “It makes me feel sad to think of Jews being killed in concentration camps,” write about the conditions of the concentration camps so that the reader is moved to sadness—to the experience of sadness.
What mostly happens is that a child will write: “6 million Jews were killed in World War II” and a parent will say, “Write more about your feelings” because what the parent really wants to read is writing that evokes feelings (totally reasonable).
A better set of questions might be:
- Tell me more about these concentration camps.
- Can you describe the conditions?
- Can you explain how the killing took place?
- Can you write from the point of view of a person standing in line for a shower?
- What might that person be thinking, wondering?
This is how we bring feeling into writing without asking for writing that shares feelings.