As I’m an erotic/steamy romance writer, the title of my post can only refer to one thing: the Cone of Learning. Ha, ha. Made you look.
One long ago Easter from my childhood, I made a Sunday School craft that continues to have a lasting impression on me almost fifty-five years later. What I recall is the first part of the tri-fold craft showed Jesus’ body being laid in the tomb. The second part depicted the stone rolled into place. The third showed the tomb empty. I remember thinking “How was that possible?” Precisely the point of the lesson: it was a miracle. I remember being hit with a sense of wonder like a flashbulb going off. Why is it the recollection of that craft has the same impact on me now when I’m sixty-three years old as it did when I was seven or eight? The answer is the Cone of Learning.
I came across this concept when I trained Sunday School teachers. Developed in the 1960’s by Edgar Dale, the Cone of Learning posits these points: people generally remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, 50% of what they see and hear, 70% of what they say and write, 90% of what they perform. In other words, the deeper you go, the longer it lasts. As I think back on that Sunday school craft, I’m sure I heard the story being told while I colored and cut and pasted in the company of other children doing the same thing. I probably read or repeated bible verses, too. That simple little craft took me deep into the cone.
The Cone of Learning takes on new meaning for me now I’m a writer. As I revise and edit my stories I have to do all I can so the 10% my reader recalls is truly memorable. This is why we writers are encouraged to show don’t tell, to evoke as many of the senses and to get as deep into the character’s point of view as possible. Think about the stories that have stuck with you. Think about passages you read over and over again to relive some delicious thrill or surprise. Your senses were engaged by sensory-rich sentences and settings. Emotion coursed through you as the character’s thoughts and feelings became your own. These authors took you deep and impressed you in ways that guaranteed you’d remember the 10% of what you read long after you put the book down.
With this in mind, my goal is to write thrilling, evocative and emotionally satisfying stories, stories so striking that fifty-some odd years later, the 10% my readers recall will be as fresh and impactful as my recollection of that Easter Sunday School take-home craft.
“$5.00 Kiss of Life” from First Response
Trapped by the small-town conventions imposed on her, a pastor’s spinster daughter finds rescue in the town bad boy’s very public kiss…
Excerpt from “$5.00 Kiss of Life”
Loose lips sunk ships during the war, Bev. And still do. Only now the ships are voter registration drives and lawsuits and attempts at economic self-sufficiency. It’s not Nazi spies listening and betraying but law enforcement officers who first tip-off Klansmen and other night riding types then stand by as they target the Negro lawyers, teachers and ministers who educate and encourage the folk of color to claim their rights. It’s not Tokyo Rose undermining Negro pride and confidence but those among our own people who choose the safety of their present limitations to the risks of a future determined by the freedom of true independence. Loose lips sink ships, Bev…and they still do.
You’d expect the ones oppressing you to do all they could to keep you down. But for members of the race to sow envy and fear and suspicion so as to undermine efforts to uplift the race was most distressing.
And most familiar.
A good reputation was the battleship in need of protection where she lived. To keep it afloat peer pressure, tradition and societal expectation waged a constant battle against the loose lips of gossip and scorn and lies.
As the daughter of the town’s minister she’d experienced the looks and the whispers and the dressing downs that kept her in her place. The freedom garnered by her one small rebellion – becoming the town librarian rather than the dutiful wife of her father’s associate pastor – turned out to be as limiting as the choice she’d rejected.
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