How My First College Campus Adventure Can Help You Write Better Fiction and Copy

How was your weekend? Last week was pretty wild–I was actually in Colorado. Got to see family I hadn’t see in years (including my cousin and her husband, who’d just come back to the United States from Georgia–the country near Russia, not the place near Florida).

Anyway, let’s get to it.

I also got to see another cousin of mine, who needed to use a computer lab at his school during the time last week that I was there, and invited me along. I thought that was pretty cool–this guy doesn’t really talk a lot, so I knew him asking me really meant something to him. And I knew it’d be a great chance to hang out, too.

I wasn’t disappointed.

He ended up taking me to University of Colorado’s Denver campus. Very cool…I’d never been to a college campus before that I can remember (campuses are a little like cows–most people know they exist, but until you actually see one live, it’s a different story).

It was spring break and the huge place was mostly empty. People milled around still, though. Buildings everywhere, and I probably wasn’t able to see them all, truth be told.

We headed to the arts building first, where I was offered a doughnut. I should have accepted–but I let the fact that I’d eaten a bunch of fruit 20 minutes before sidetrack me. And a pity I didn’t bring my other stuff–they were having some kind of trumpet convention in the place, and it was nice to hear brass folks doing clear noodling around (I’ve been playing trumpet for about 20 years…don’t worry, my lips are just fine).

I ended up inside the Auraria Library while my cousin hammered away on his project (for his major in Urban Planning and Development). I was impressed by this library’s…complexity. Two floors, and I couldn’t find one book in the place, because I couldn’t figure out how they were organizing their stuff (which is another subject for another post…which I may or may not write, depending on how much I pull out of this one).

So I ended up using the internet on the campus connection. I shouldn’t have waited for someone to sit by the “Ask Me” desk that was 20 feet away, because they never showed. My cuz told me there were a lot of student workers in the library (who were probably on break, too).

We hopped to where I should have started–the downstairs floor of the place–only to discover it’d be five whole days before a book I was looking for got shipped in from Texas (and I’d be gone by then). Oh, well. Trying to hunt down one of the greatest marketing books ever (Scientific Advertising) was worth it.

My cousin ended up taking me and my brother (who came with me on the trip) out to a burger joint because all the in-campus food places were closed (including this cool orange trailer that served gyros–what a super bummer…I love that stuff).

It was a good time. And well…how the heck do you use something like this in your writing?

Simple–pretend I’m your prospect or your reader. 

I was put in a place I’d never been and got totally confused by almost everything (including why there were 140-year-old houses in the middle of campus, until my cousin told me they bought up property to build a lot of the campus buildings, and kept some houses for history’s sake).

One thing that your prospect or reader knows is himself/herself. That’s why you can dole out details to get them oriented or get them watching something, wondering what’s going to happen next because you’ve gotten their attention and their curiosity to spike.

That’s why you build bridges between what they know and don’t know. Without my cousin there, I would have been lost and clueless. That’s how you can be for your readers or prospects, but you want to be behind the scenes for them by choosing the details you reveal…not scaring them to deal and breaking the spell by jumping out of nowhere and explaining everything.

My cousin also had a really cool show don’t tell moment when he told me near the gyro trailer (I think) that he was on campus from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. with no time to eat. I think all the food smells would drive me nuts.

All right, then. If you’re ever stuck for direction in a story, email, or what-have-ya, just imagine your prospect is on a college campus. Where do you want them to go, and why? And then, show ’em with words.

Until next time,

Ty

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About Ty Mall

Thanks for stopping by. I've almost always been interested in writing, among other things. Along with discovering pop culture, I've uncovered a lot about the craft over the past 10 years. And whether you're a fiction writer or email copywriter, I'm here to pass on what I've found out. And have a ton of fun in the process.
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