“There may never be anything new to say, but there is always a new way to say it.”
– Flannery O’Connor
Continuing on with my new fascination with personal essay writing, I recently picked up the book Naked, Drunk and Writing by Adair Lara. I thought the most helpful and informative section of this book was the one about angles.
According to the author, “An angle is a way to tell a story,” like the concept of a movie or the premise of a book. It’s a way to grab the reader’s attention long enough for you to say what you want to say. The angle lets you know what to put in and what to leave out, and it can also serve as the conflict for your piece. For example, your idea is to write an essay all about how you’ve always wanted to go to Paris. Kind of boring, right? I mean, who doesn’t? The angle would be what makes this story worth reading, so in this case maybe what or who has stopped you from going to Paris.
Of course, finding the angle of your piece is the hardest part, so Naked, Drunk and Writing gave a few suggestions on where to look for an angle to your story:
- the daily paper (using a headline to give you an angle)
- something you hear yourself say
- talking it through with someone
- writing the last paragraph
- a quote
- surprising remarks you hear