Electric Lemons: Interpretation and the Art of Writing

Thoughtful, thorough, personal, engaging, and humorous, Electric Lemons is essential reading for . . . anyone who works with or manages interpretive programs.
—Susan J. Tweit, speaker and award-winning author of Walking Nature Home

This is the clearest-headed yet widest ranging guide to interpretive writing I have seen.
—Kim Sikoryak, Chief of Interpretation, ret., Intermountain Region, National Park Service

Calling all Interpretive Writers!

No matter your background or experience level, Electric Lemons will open new ways for you to explore and practice the art and craft of interpretive writing.

Interpretive writing is one of the toughest types of writing to do well. At its best, it paints memorable images and ideas that connect on profound and emotional levels with the reader, precipitating changes in beliefs and behavior. At its worst, it alienates the very people we are trying to engage.

With the advice and guidance from Electric Lemons, you’ll discover how to take what you know—about your site, your resource, about interpretation itself—and weave it into writing that is powerful, passionate, and persuasive. You’ll gain the confidence and skill you need to create interpretive stories that inspire, intrigue, delight, and educate—the stories that make a difference.

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Electric Lemons . . . represents a significant contribution to the interpretation literature and the advancement of the profession.
—Ted T. Cable, Ph.D., coauthor of The Gifts of Interpretation and Interpretation of Cultural and Natural Resources

The Definitive Resource for New and Experienced Interpretive Writers

In this one-of-a-kind guide, award-winning author and playwright, veteran interpretive writer, and long-time writing coach Judy Fort Brenneman shares a unique approach to learning and practicing interpretive writing. Here you will find inspiration and practical advice, techniques to court the muse and to craft powerful stories, and the nitty-gritty on fundamental principles and how to create stories that make a difference.

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This is a volume that needs to be included in any interpretive training session and on the shelves of all heritage sites.
—John C. F. Luzader, Principal, Living Museums of the West; NAI Master, NAI Fellow

What Makes Electric Lemons so different?

  • Advice and guidance for all types of interpretive writing, from single exhibit labels to scripted performances, complex exhibitions, and electronic media
  • Unique approach blends the principles and theory of interpretation with deep knowledge of creative process and creative writing
  • Explores how to think about writing and interpretive story development in order to create powerful, compelling stories (without ignoring how to craft lovely sentences and properly place punctuation)
  • Upbeat, enthusiastic, and occasionally irreverent
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Best of all, Judy Fort Brenneman shares her own writing with us. In her sometimes humorous, sometimes touching Interludes, she grapples with the thorny (scary) issue of story, and of being a creative soul with a hard and fast opening date.
—Elizabeth Pickard, Director, Education and Interpretation, Missouri History Museum; past President, International Museum Theatre Alliance

Read the Table of Contents (PDF)

Judy brings a refreshing perspective to the art of interpretation, effectively capturing the heart of interpretive storytelling technique and theory.
—Roger Riolo, Principal, InterpTrain; NAI Master Trainer, Certified Interpretive Planner, Certified Heritage Interpreter

About the Author

To the world of interpretive writing Judy Fort Brenneman brings skills honed through deep engagement with science and technical writing, marketing communications, and creative wordsmithing. She has completed interpretive projects and taught workshops for federal, state, and local government agencies, as well as historical societies, historical and scientific museums, an aquarium, and private companies.

Judy Fort Brenneman has made a valuable contribution for the interpretive profession, and I highly recommend this book. . . .
—John Veverka, Assoc. Editor, The Journal of Interpretation Research; Director, The Heritage Interpretation Training Center

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