How I Helped Practitioners Write Experience Sharing Articles
(Minghui.org) The 11th China Fahui on Minghui.org will soon begin. I've been submitting articles to the Minghui website for many years and have exchanged ideas with practitioners who are good at writing. I found that the number of practitioners who are able to write good experience sharing articles is limited, so I think it would be good for those who have good writing skills to help others write their articles. I would like to share some of my experiences.
Choosing the Right Angle and Finding the Main Theme
Many practitioners feel that they've done a lot, but when it comes to writing about their experiences, they're not sure where to start.
It's very important to choose a good angle to start from. When one is clear about which angle to use, one will have a clearer train of thought and the main theme will be evident.
One practitioner did very well in a forced labor camp, but her article was all about the torture she suffered and how she made it through. But that wasn't the main theme.
When we talked about her article, she mentioned that the inmates had a lot of respect for her because they saw how she conducted herself. When the guards told them to report on her, they refused to tell them anything in order to protect her and out of respect. So I suggested that she start from this angle and focus on how her conduct as a practitioner earned the inmates' respect. She immediately understood how to begin her article.
Another practitioner who wanted to submit an article had accomplished a lot, but she didn't know what to focus on. We had a long talk and she mentioned that once when she and a few other practitioners drove to another county to pass out informational materials about Falun Gong, someone reported them to the police. The police parked a car in the middle of the road to try to intercept them. The other practitioners panicked, but she said calmly, “Let's send righteous thoughts and just drive on.” They didn't stop, so the police chased them. There was a market ahead. They drove to the market without any trouble, but the police car couldn't get through the crowds and had to give up.
I asked the practitioner what was on her mind at that time. She told me it was just an intuitive thought.
Earlier, this same practitioner walked out of a forced labor camp untouched and with her head held high. I asked her what she thought about while she was inside. She said, “From the very beginning, I thought that I shouldn't be there. A fellow practitioner suggested that I should try to find someone to get me out, but I immediately rejected her suggestion.”
This practitioner used to have leukemia symptoms. Through practicing Falun Gong, the symptoms disappeared. When she mentioned this, I asked her what was on her mind when she learned that she might have leukemia. She said, “I just remembered Master's words:
“If you can let go of life and death, you’re a God; if you can’t let go of life and death, you’re a human—this is the difference.” (“Teaching the Fa in New York City” from Lectures in the United States)
She said, “I said to myself, 'What leukemia? I can let go of life and death.'”
This sharing was later published on the Minghui website (Righteous Thoughts from the Heart）
Details Are Important
The most engaging part of any novel is the compelling details that help set off the storyline. So details play an important role in an article.
Often when a practitioner mentions good details, you can find a very good storyline.
One practitioner sells frozen foods in a market. At first she thought there was nothing to say about selling things in a market. As we talked she mentioned the vendor next to her at the market. Whenever she had something that was selling well, he would come and ask to borrow some. However, when she ran out of things and tried to borrow from him, he would never lend her any. But gradually her kindness changed him. Once he paid a special visit to her store and told her that when he and a few friends were dining together, one of them asked if he had a belief, and he said he believed in Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance (the principles of Falun Gong).
Another vendor said this practitioner could live with a tiger, because she was so kind that even a tiger wouldn't harm her. Nothing is better than details like that to demonstrate the kindness and generosity of practitioners.
Of course, we may need more details to give a full picture. She also talked about a store that sold chickens. The couple who ran the store didn't pay much attention their toddler child. The one-year-old toddler crawled around everywhere and was always filthy. One day, he crawled to the practitioner's store. She lifted his clothes and saw that his body was full of bumps from bug bites. She washed him, bought some ointment, applied it to the bites, and took him back to his parents. Since then, the little boy crawls only to her store.
I collected all those details and helped the practitioner put them into an experience sharing article, which was published on the Minghui website with the title “The Prosperous Market.”
Collect as Many Resource Materials as Possible
One can write with ease when there is plenty of resource materials. But since I'm usually only able to meet with the practitioner once, I need to focus on key points. I just let them talk about whatever they want, and as they talk, things worth writing about come naturally.
This is how I wrote the article “The Prosperous Market.” I only met with the practitioner once. Looking back, if I had talked with her a bit more about her cultivation before she started the business in the market, I might have been able to help write another good sharing.
One practitioner told me that her father (a blacksmith) had many miraculous experiences and asked me to help write an experience sharing article. But when I went to talk to him, he didn't seem to be able to give direct answers to my questions. When he talked about something, he just touched on it very briefly.
For example, he told me that when the police came to search his house, he lay in bed and angrily yelled at the police, “It's such a good practice. Why aren't we allowed to practice it?” The police were so scared that they ran out. But when I asked him for more about it, he couldn't give any details.
After a while I went to see him again and asked how he started practicing Falun Gong. He mentioned that his leg was injured by an emery cutter. He woke up at night and when he touched his wound, it felt cold. When I asked for more details, again he couldn't say much. I felt a bit frustrated. Even though his story was good, there weren't enough details.
Later I went to have a chat with him again and this time I also talked with his wife. She told me she was very bad-tempered in the past. When the director of the workshop she was in didn't keep his word, she grabbed his collar and tried to force him to lick up his spit. But she changed after she started practicing Falun Gong. A neighbor once came to her house to scold her. She wasn't angry and even offered her to come in and sit down.
In fact, I know this family well. After his daughter was released from a forced labor camp, the local police station refused to register her as a resident. The older lady argued loudly outside the police station and in the end the head of the police station apologized to her. But because I focused on the older man, I overlooked the stories of the other family members. When I put everything together, it became a very good sharing article. Even though the older man's stories seemed scattered, when you go in from a good angle, they formed part of a complete story. The article was published with the titled “Cultivation Stories of a Blacksmith and His Wife.”
The article “Validating Dafa Working in a Restaurant” was also written this way. I knew this practitioner, but wasn't sure where to start. I just had bits and pieces. The first time I talked with her, she told me how she became a waitress. The second time I saw her, she told me how friendly people were towards practitioners. Once she told me a group of gangsters came to eat in the restaurant where she worked. The leader of the group said to her, “Big Sister, why can't I be rude and vicious when I see you?” I was rather shocked to hear this. I thought: "This practitioner has reached such a realm that even gangsters show her respect." When I put all the details together, the storyline became very clear.
I wrote three articles about this practitioner. The two articles “Story of a Five-Star Waitress” and “An Excellent Waitress Gives a Good Impression of Falun Dafa” were written from different angles about this practitioner's cultivation experiences.
Looking back, I realized that, as long as we have detailed information, we can write good sharing articles with ease. After all, everything has been arranged by Master.
Stringing Together the Precious Pearls of Our Experiences
There are so many cultivation stories, and each one is like a precious pearl. My job is to string these pearls together with vivid descriptions.
At the same time, no matter how good the resource materials are, they need to be tailored. As in the blacksmith's case, I intended to write about the miraculous incidents he had experienced in cultivation. Even though he talked about some of them, they were not suitable for the main theme, so I cut them out. I only mentioned a little in passing at the end when I talked about his wife. If I had written more about these incidents, it wouldn't be consistent with the main theme of the article and they would also weaken the early parts of the sharing.
To help make up for the shortcomings in experience sharing articles on the Minghui website, it would be good if practitioners with good writing skills could assume the responsibility of contributing more to the submissions of the upcoming China Fahui.