英文写作技巧: 如何引起读者的共鸣

英文写作

<This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclaimer for more information.>





写作不同于影视,后者有丰富的画面和各种音响效果及对白。作为笔者,我们能运用的只有符号般的文字。但不可否认,就是这些看不到画面,听不着声音的文字,在作家的笔下可以成为一篇篇精彩的文章和故事,让读者心潮澎湃,或潸然泪下,随着主人公紧张,心酸,或喜悦。”The reading experience is supposed to transport people, move them through the power of story.” (James Scott Bell

在英文写作中如何引起读者的共鸣呢?下面介绍几个方法:

1. 让你的主人公(protagonist) 真实生动

我们喜欢读一个故事并不止因为情节(plot), 还因为里面的人物(characters),特别是主要人物 (main characters). 如果读者根本不关心故事里的人物,他们是很难投入进去的。 让你的主人公真实可信有普通人的情感,有弱点和缺点,有向往和困惑,因为这些都是读者能理解的东西。

在我指导的学生里,大多很喜欢设计情节,但不太注意刻画人物(characterization), 即使是精彩的故事如果人物单薄,特征模糊,小说还是很难引起共鸣,读者最多是个傍观者,不会真正在意故事如何发展。因此我尤其强调人物刻画的意义。

情节和人物应该是相辅相成的。在写的时候要设计好你的主人公是一个什么要的人(年龄,体貌特征,性格等),在写情节时有意去刻画他/她的形象,主要方法有形象描述(look), 行为举止(action), 对话(dialogue), 内心独白(thoughts)等。

在Jack London 所著的Call for the Wildness 里主人公是一只叫Buck的狗,但即使是以非人类为主角的小说里,作者仍为它赋予了很多人类的情感和特征,比如小说一开始就对Buck和当时的背景做了描述。虽然它是一只狗,但读者已经感觉到它即将面临的困境了,为它担心。

BUCK did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tide-water dog, strong of muscle and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to San Diego. Because men, groping in the Arctic darkness, had found a yellow metal, and because steamship and transportation companies were booming the find, thousands of men were rushing into the Northland. These men wanted dogs, and the dogs they wanted were heavy dogs, with strong muscles by which to toil, and furry coats to protect them from the frost.

2. 使用感官细节(sensory details)

Sensory details 是一种 “show, don’t tell”的方法,运用文字描述将视觉,听觉,嗅觉,触觉,和味觉调动起来,让读者能想象出画面,声音,气味等。

我们依靠自己的感官来感知和理解周围的世界。 我们的传感器官将信息发送到大脑,产生情绪反应。以声音为例。 当听到尖叫声时,杏仁核(amygdala, 大脑中以处理恐惧而闻名的部分)被激活, 听众会产生恐惧感, 心跳加快。

当我们阅读sensory details时,大脑处理感官信息的区域同样会被激活,令我们仿佛身临其境,并迷失在故事中。 感官语言的使用不仅使阅读体验更加逼真,而且增加了阅读的乐趣。

美国作家E.L.Doctorow 说过:“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”

其实只要你留心,你会发现,Sensory details 运用非常广泛。比如歌词,诗歌,到小说,纪实文学,甚至演讲稿和大学申请文书。

下面是几个例子:

a. “Vincent” Song Lyric

Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and grey
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land

b. From “Switching Shoes” Essays that Worked 

It was a wet and dreary October evening. I shook off the dirt from my cleats on the concrete with frustration. Click, clack, click. The sound echoed through my head until I finally rested my heavy legs on the wooden bench in front of my locker.

c. From “Drought has given one woman a new mission in life” 

The grandmother sat outside in her Sunday best next to a house with peeling paint, her canned iced tea resting on top of a washing machine that didn’t work. She’d been without running water for four months.

Up an easy-to-miss dirt road, a 70-year-old woman moved 5-gallon jugs of water into her single-wide trailer. It was hard because she was weak from chemotherapy. Her water had stopped coming out of the tap three months ago.



3. 使用具体生动的词汇

抽象词汇往往不能表达有形的特质,读者要用自己思考去理解,比如 kindness, confidence, dedication, humility。 这些词汇一般用于阐述广义的内容且多使用在比较正式的文章里。如:“He has won numerous awards for his bravery.”

过多使用抽象词汇会让文章显得枯燥,不易理解。在英文写作中,特别是创意写作(creative writing)中,应该尽量使用更具体化的词汇(concrete words)来描述。

读者看不到”fatigue” (抽象词汇), 但他们可以看到或感到“sweat, cramp of legs, dark circles under eyes” (具体词汇)。 具体词汇将所指的事物形象化,更容易触动读者感官,也就更容易产生共鸣。

例如下面句子:

a. The reading room was filled with people and noise.

b. The reading room overflowed with young children sitting cross-legged on a thick brown carpet, jittery and bore while their teachers told them to hush and be still. (From Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis

句子b将相对抽象的词汇“people” 和 “noise” 具体化,阅读时的体验感随之加强。

此外,还要减少枯燥单调词汇的使用,增加生动的词汇,应为后者更容易帮助读者理解和体会内容,渲染情绪。宽泛的词汇 (如good, happy, take, put)因为意思很广又在日常中频繁使用,不会给读者留下多少印象,因此让内容细致入微,就要多使用生动而具体的词汇。

例如下面的句子:

a. The train to Worcester moved forward and my suitcase fell from my hands to the aisle.

b. The train to Worcester pitched forward and my suitcase flew from my hands, sliding down the aisle. (From Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis

句子b 用更为生动的动词(pitch, flow, slide)让情景更为真切地呈现在对着面前。

扩大写作词汇,可参考我的书“Expand Vocabulary for Writing” 逐渐让词汇丰富起来,并用于写作。

英文写作不易,写好就更不易,既要考虑内容结构,又要把控好语言句式。 需要不断学习,经常练笔。

为帮助更多的青少年提高英文写作,我录制了E-course “Writing Course for Teens” ,共20课(每讲5-12分钟,self-paced, 24 months access),全英文讲解,内容是基于我多年教授美国青少年(主要为12-16岁间)英文写作课和私教中归纳的重点和例子, 深受各位家长和孩子们的欢迎。点击下图,了解课程介绍:

**以上内容为作者版权所有,未经同意请勿转载,违者必究。