(picture from Juggler’s World, Summer 1986)
The Juggling Illusion
Last month, I started a series of posts on how juggling can help your writing. Today I’m back with my two favorite past times, juggling and writing, and how the art of illusion can improve both.
There is a crazy juggling trick called the Fake Columns. It’s based off the Columns trick, a harder pattern where the juggler juggles two balls in one hand and then tosses up the third ball in the other. Two of the balls sync with each other, meaning they match in height and speed, while the third ball is tossed in between them. In the Fake Columns, the juggler holds onto one of the two syncing balls and mimics the ball’s movement by lifting it up and down with his hand. The effect is an illusion. It looks like the juggler is doing Columns, but in reality he is cheating. The switch, if you will, always garners a few laughs. Fake Columns plays off why juggling looks so cool. The changing of patterns and hands makes it appear far more difficult than it is.
Like juggling, great storytelling is an art of illusion. It transports the reader into a story so fully that they feel as if they are the character, and are touched emotionally. The effect can wow and move readers and it can bring empathy, which is what I believe leads to the word of mouth support all authors crave. As a writer, consider your storytelling as a slight of hand, similar to the Fake Columns. You are laying the tricks that touch your reader, a foreshadow here, metaphor there, or a plot twist near the climax, can illicit an emotional responses in readers.
Humans are emotional creatures. We cry at weddings and funerals, but the emotions are different, one for joy and the other for sorrow. Our experience is never forgotten. The more emotion writers give their readers, the more memorable the story. If your writing doesn’t move you, it won’t move your audience. So, when you write, rewrite, or revise your manuscript look for ways to bring emotion to your story. Maybe you will wow your audience like a story juggler.