Trust the power of discovery

In Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide, Emmy-winning TV documentary producer Stanley Nelson writes:

Saying too much — especially in the film’s narration — ruins the audience’s sense of discovery. The experience of watching a film should be making a series of discoveries. This process keeps viewers engaged.

This wisdom absolutely applies to writing as well. Even marketing writing. Tell readers what to think and you’ll quickly turn them off. Set a compelling story in front of readers — getting the facts and scenic details right — and you engage their attention and their thinking.

Consider how Jesus didn’t always tell his audience the meaning behind a parable. He let them think on it and discuss it among themselves. The principle is the same: Discovery is a powerful teaching tool if we trust it.

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