Breaking the Fourth Wall

During a consulting session with a client today, we arrived at a possible litmus test for checking whether you’re still on track with what you’re writing – which is important when creating content without receiving much, or any, outside feedback that could help you keep on track and thus relying on your own, internal feedback:

Great content creators however are writing (talking, painting, sculpting) as if they were surging ahead into empty space at full speed, only picking up the glimmer of a star here and there to stay on track.

When going through some of her sales copy, I struggled with explaining why I thought it didn’t work as she had intended. After a while, I arrived at an hypothesis – which probably has been discussed dozens of times already because it seems so obvious.

The Fourth Wall

In theatre and film, the fourth wall (as opposed to the walls that make up the right, left and back confines of the stage) is the barrier between actors and audience. When an actor is talking to the audience – and acknowledging it as such –, he is breaking the fourth wall and touching the audience in the most direct way possible within this setting.

The monitor or iPad or Kindle screen is the barrier between your content and the recipient. Every time you directly reach out to the reader, you’re breaking this barrier. (Look out for you and your, and directive/imperative phrases in your copy.)

Feedback From Within

It is easy to determine whether you’re being true to yourself (and, thus, trusting and trustworthy) when talking to a person.

When writing without the benefit of direct feedback, then ask yourself: Am I being authentic while breaking the fourth wall? This is all that seems to matter: The words that help you reach out to your readers are small; their effect is huge, and can tell a lot about yourself, your writing process and authenticity.