QOTW: Experience over information (or becoming Ira’s disciple)

Ira was right. Let me say that right off the bat.

Twice I participated in a monthly writing group the two months I was in the States. Twice Ira didn’t merely mention Self-Editing for Fiction Writers (Second Edition, by Renni Browne and Dave King), he preached about it. If there had been a physical soap box, he would have gotten up on it. His sermon didn’t vary much. If you only buy one book about writing, this IS. THE. ONE. It changed his writing. It will change yours.

Twice I left thinking maybe Ira was on to something.

He was.

This book is not only for writers, it is for every single reader of books. I speak with the passion of Ira. I have recommended this to several book clubs – if you want to know why you liked (or didn’t like) a book, this will put words to feelings. Most of us can sense when something isn’t good, but we can’t always express why the writing was flat or failed to moved. Now you can!

Here is a tip for writers and readers alike:

You don’t want to give your readers information. You want to give them experiences…It’s nearly always best to resist the urge to explain. Or, as we so often write it in the manuscript margins, R.U.E.

Experience over information. There’s a lot more than just a writing tip in there. Parents, teachers, pastors, leaders, are you listening? R.U.E. It’s that simple.

And that hard. Information is so much easier to provide than experiences.  Thanks Ira, I drank the Kool-Aid and loved every sip!

What’s one way you can provide an experience today instead of information?


  1. Is this applicable for other types of writing, such as non-fiction or short blog posts?

    • Great advice. Give experience not just information. Simple sentence, yet so hard to do….

      Loren, I think it would apply to all types of writing, but I’m just guessing.

    • The book is geared for fiction writers, but in “Made to Stick” (by Dan and Chip Heath) they would agrue that an experience would be stickier than information. So, it’s broader (in my opinion) than just for fiction writers.

  2. Amy, thanks for mentioning this book. I’m going to check it out. Nice to visit with you today.

  3. Amy,

    If I could only add one book to my reading list…would you recommend “Made to Stick” or “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” or something else entirely? I’ve hit a wall with my writing…so I’m looking for inspiration…

    • Oh man, Lizzie, are you looking for inspiration for you blog? “MAde to Stick” is one of my all time favorite books — it would be helpful for your teaching and getting ideas to stick. “Self-Editing” has writing exercises at the end of each chapter, so that might help jump start your writing. I’m also reading “Rumors of Water” now and it’s getting me to think of things like voice in my writing. If you’re wanting ideas for your blog, I can send you some things I’ve been reading recently that are inspiriing me. Lizzie, I enjoy your blog, sorry it’s a dry spell for you! Not fun.

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