Understanding the Process – Presence on the Page


A great conversation with my French teacher this morning – she is also a writer – helped me understand what I do that is different. It’s all about Presence.

Presence is what J.K. Rowling brings to the world with Harry Potter. Presence is what speakers bring to the stage that is unique. Presence is what makes the difference between simply observing life and truly living it. Presence is what makes the work we do worthwhile.

Fairly early on in my career as a novelist, I asked myself what the difference was with Harry Potter. There are no Emporer’s New Clothes with children’s literature – if children love a book, it’s because it really has something wonderful. Straight away, I realised what it was – Joanne Rowling is right there, in the story, and she takes us there, too.

So that is what I decided to do in my own writing – I would live the story, and describe it from within. Robert McKee – screen-writing guru – says “the truer the emotion, the simpler the language”. In my own writing, too, I found this to be true. If I tried to be clever with words, I distanced myself from the story. So I pared back, gathered my courage, and wrote my truth.

Now, this is how I work with my clients. I live inside their message and I describe it, not only in words, but in feeling. I deliver, not just their words, but their Presence. How much they care. How passionate they are. How they want and intend to change the world.

This isn’t very often done in writing. Perhaps we haven’t known how. Perhaps we didn’t realise it was important. But some of us did. Thank you, J.K. Rowling; thank you Robert McKee, for showing the way.

If you’d like to talk to me about translating your Presence, and your message, into book form, send me an email, jennifer@jennifermanson.co.nz, and we’ll set up a time to talk.

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