June 15, 2011

Shortcuts to Good Writing, Part Three: Targeted Practice

Posted in shortcuts tagged , at 3:06 pm by Rebecca Hein

Recently I decided to improve my nature descriptions. Here in Wyoming, the land and sky are magical and, like Monet and his desire to capture outdoor light on canvas, I must convey the wonder of a luminous cloud at sunrise.

In music, you can choose between practicing a specific passage and working on the technical problem in that passage. If the former, you master that passage but not subsequent ones like it. Instead, you can identify the skill needed, isolate it into an exercise or drill, and polish it until you can apply it anytime. Then you’ve solved the whole problem.

So for my nature scenes, instead of deferring the struggle until it confronts me in my current book, I plan to try, try, and try again to write perfect descriptions, in practice-writing mode where I am free and can throw away my attempts if they don’t please me.

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