I work with a Mexican (I am in no way dissing Mexicans here) at my summer job. Off work, he's a nice guy, but on work he mumbles and does not understand English hand signals. For example, he once held up his pointing finger, you know, the one that means "one minute." So I waited a minute.
Then he came storming around the corner he had disappeared behind. He told me I was supposed to come help him. I could barely hear him. Of course that could be due to the loud machines all around us. Anyway, because of the communication difficulties between us, it is very hard to work with that man.
I was also trying to explain once how we could hang a part horizontally. He had no idea what horizontally meant. I had to hang the part horizontally to show him.
I learned that communication complications come not only from language and hand-signal problems, but that it can come from background noise as well. I would say that the background noise is the largest problem between us. Normally, I could dumb down my language and listen closer to understand him, but with that background noise. It is really hard.
This evening, on the way back from work, I realized that even in writing we deal with background noise. We deal with it in our own writing and in the setting and mind of the reader.
In a book for children you can expect that the child, with the amazing, though distract-able imaginations that children have, will have a lot of background noise outside the words you put on the page.
In a novel for teens and adults you can expect that outside stresses will cause background noise.
So, in order to communicate clearly in your writing, you should write with background noise in mind and make sure you cut out background noise within your writing itself. Background noise in writing can be things like poor grammar, cliches, and phrases that are used in only certain areas.
You can help keep a child's attention off outside background noise by keeping your sentences short and your words simple.
With YA/adult books you can eliminate outside background noise by keeping your story full of unexpected things and trying your hardest to draw the reader in. Teenage and adult readers often read a book to take a break from the world of stress outside your pages. Give them a new world and make them forget the outside background noise.
Keep on writing, my friends!
Joshua A. Spotts