Thursday, March 22, 2007

How to Tweak Your Writing Skills

I have a small writing group called Word Mage- we are all about writing, reading and enjoying both processes. Learning to write shouldn't be a daunting task that makes your muscles turn into charlie horses. You should have fun with it. One way we do that at Word Mage is daily writing prompts - writing is what teaches you how to write as does reading -- everything from cereal boxes to magazines, books, newspapers, advertisements...READ EVERYTHING.

Improving your writing skills is as easy as falling off a log. Sure it is - what you need to do is write, write, write. You say you can't think of anything to write? Or you have a stack of stuff you've written but can't seem to find a home for it? If you have nothing written, write a short piece about your day - how did it go, what did you do, what did you see, were you alone or with someone, do you like that person? So pick either a piece previously written or this piece and...
Let's try an experiment...

Take a mediocre, or horrible, or fabulous piece of your writing or the one just finished. It can be a short piece of a couple hundred words --or as long as you'd like it to be.

Now go through that piece and look for non-descript words -- words like wonderful, beautiful, horrible. Each person you know, or who reads your writing can conjure up an image that is nothing at all like you pictured when you think beautiful.

Think about that:
What is beautiful to you - a child, a kitten, a lake in winter, a mountain in summer? Perhaps I hate cats - whether they are kittens or full grown feline tigers [I really do love cats - but this works for an example] I wouldn't think that constitutes beautiful, but that may be exactly what you are describing.

So you see, I don't necessarily think a lake is beautiful either:
- maybe I'm a snowmobiler and my machine went through the ice on a lake and I almost died as a result OR
...Maybe I was in a log rolling contest on a lake at a Girl Scout Camp and got pinned under the log...Would that make a lake beautiful to me do you think?

Okay, you get my message.

Now, list the non-descript words you find as you go through your piece on a separate sheet of paper. Ask yourself what were these words actually supposed to be describing? what were you trying to get your reader to see?

A nice painting? is that Monet, or abstract art, or finger painting. Does the matting make it look nice to you - what emotion does it stir in you? Why? What exactly is the painting about -- is it the title that makes you think it *nice* or is it the color, the composition, what?

By these examples I have tried to show you that non-descript words rob your writing of what you really wanted to say, what makes it your UPV (your Unique Point of View) and thus robs you of an opportunity to bring your reader more fully into your story.

Visit us at Word Mage if you would like some help and encouragement with your writing at

Hope to see you there - and watch here for more writing tips and an interview with a well published author - with a unique perspective on life- Joyce Anthony - coming soon - her book STORM is taking the world by storm -and you'll get to hear how, why and when she wrote the book and her process for doing it, right here. Stay tuned.

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