What I Learned From People Staring at Me

What I Learned
From People Staring at Me
Guest Post by David A Millican III

Public Speaking Makes Me a Better Writer

David has been featured in the Book Blog Tour section with Frontier Preacher: Ill Repute

I’ve always been praised for my writing; maybe that’s why I have a big head. When people talk about doubts over the quality of their writing I can’t identify, I have no doubts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying everything I write is fantastic or even worth reading. I’ve written my fair share of drivel. Still do. But I don’t have any doubts about what is good and what isn’t. I honestly evaluate my work and know whether it’s worth pursuing or if it should go in the heap.

I’m currently working on a romance novel, something far outside of my wheelhouse, and want to use it as an example. As I write, I can tell you if a section is well written or not. This is a new genre for me and I fall prey to preconceptions about what romance writing is. When I write romance, my writing is not worth reading. When I write the story of two people interacting in this world, the writing is better.

I don’t know if the story will be a good romance, I don’t read romances. I don’t know if it will please readers used to a certain format, I don’t know that format. What I do know is that it will be well written and it will tell a story. I do know that if a scene, a sentence, or word isn’t important it won’t be kept in. What I do know is that from beginning to end, it will be one story.

This is experience speaking, not arrogance. I do not claim to be better than I am. I’m not a great American novelist. Many literature majors would classify my work as…okay. Not great, but not bad, just okay. But I’m okay with that. If someone, anyone, is entertained by my work, then it was worth it for me to write. (And that includes myself!)

The experience I am speaking of though is not writing experience but public speaking. I’m an evangelist (fancy word for preacher) and part of my job is to stand in front of a crowd four times a week to deliver a message. Sometimes the audience is involved, sometimes it sits back and listens. And when you’re up there, delivering a message to people, you get something every author dreams of: instant feedback.

You see their eyes go wide with surprise or droop with disinterest. You see creases on foreheads as they contemplate or eyes glass over as you lose them with complicated statements. You see how they feel about your story/message, while you are delivering it. That terrifies some, but for the writer, it should be a dream come true.

I know what works and what doesn’t work in an instant. I’ve learned to streamline my stories, keeping the audience engaged. I’ve learned how much detail to pepper in. Most of all I’ve learned to start a story and end a story without losing the audience. I have written my entire life but my writing has never been more effective than since I began public speaking.

If you struggle getting from one end of your story to the other, then consider public speaking. If people are confused by what you write, consider public speaking. If you want to become a more engaging storyteller, consider public speaking.
Talk to your local schools and libraries and see if you can read some of your written work. Go to the park and read your stories. Join Toastmasters or another public speaking group. Form your own group of friends who will listen to each other. Public speaking will take your writing to new heights.

Please take the time to check out my new book, Frontier Preacher:Ill Repute on Kindle Scout. Nominate my work for publication and you will receive a free copy of the ebook if my book is chosen to be published.

About the Author

David A Millican III

David was born and raised in Wyoming then spent his twenties traveling the world in the U.S. Air Force. He has spent time in retail managing several different stores which he left for a chance to live in Taiwan and work with the church there. He now spends his time in McKeesport Pennsylvania with his wife Emily. He has been writing since he was a child, enjoying success in the young authors program, local literary magazines, and blogging.

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3 Comments
  1. I know what you mean by hard audiences. My hardest audience was a senior group, 65+. They were above me and didn’t need to learn anything from me. I tried humor, drama, interesting facts, personal touches, and nothing worked. I finally had to put them on the spot and show how much they didn’t know to open their minds to the fact that they still had more to learn. Public speaking is a wealth of experience. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Laura 🙂 I smiled reading your story. Thanks for sharing it. Will tell to David about your comment, right now.

  3. Tell you what, David, I can relate to public speaking building skills. I teach middle school and high school, and that instant feedback is priceless, especially in honing comic timing.

    The most difficult audience–and I taught this age group at church for 12 summers–is the 3-4-5 year-old crowd. I did the junior church Bible lessons, and I learned to keep them–all thirty, plus parents and student helpers–in the palm of my hand through dramatic storytelling. Well, and unexpected special effects. I came up with all kinds of things on the fly, raiding the church kitchen and my classroom (our Christian school is on the campus) for supplies. My goodness, did I learn. Fortunately, when I burned Jeremiah’s scroll (like King Jehoiakim did), there was not quite enough smoke to cause a problem. 🙂

    Best of luck with your book!
    Laura

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