Saturday, February 16, 2008

Write like Mozart and Dr. Seuss

I was tagged by Boring Black Chick for the Three Pieces of Writing Advice meme.

I have loved writing since I was a child. It is my preferred way to express myself, as I "speak" better with a pen (or in reality--a keyboard) than with my mouth. I think a writer's method is very personal--unique like a thumb print, so I don't think I can tell another writer how to write as much as I can share how I go about translating the swirl of ideas in my head to paper or screen.

Hear it. Most of my blog posts, short stories and essays are half written in my head before I sit down at my computer. I "hear" the narrative as if someone is telling me a story. And then, once I have captured my thoughts on paper, I read the finished piece aloud. Like music, good writing has a rhythm and flow. Tune your ear to catch "off key" words or the "pitchy" transitions.

Read it. I have been a voracious reader all of my life and my love of the written word--in novels, poetry, magazines, newspapers and on cereal boxes--has made me a better writer. It is through reading that I grow my vocabulary and learn new ways to describe things. It is through reading that I can study the masters at their craft; great novelists, great ad copy writers, great journalists--a smart writer can steal something good from each.

Make it simple. I am a graduate of editing boot camp. No really, back in my journalism days I attended a summer-long editing program run by the Maynard Institute. And I spent a couple years on the copy desk at a daily newspaper. I can wield a red pen like a champion. I like writing that is at once simple and engaging. I read somewhere that a good exercise to try is to go through a finished piece and eliminate all of the adjectives; then put only the best ones back. I do that sometimes.

Surely one king of entertaining brevity is Theodor Geissel, or as you may know him, Dr. Seuss, who said:

"It has often been said there's so much to be read,
you never can cram all those words in your head.
So the writer who breeds more words than he needs,
is making a chore for the reader who reads.
That's why my belief is the briefer the brief is,
the greater the sigh of the reader's relief is."
I am tagging three writers that I quite enjoy:

Lisa at Just Lisa

Deesha at Mamalicious


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