Monday, November 24, 2008

Topic: Learning to Write

10-second review: You learn to write by reading and paying attention to the world around you.

Title: “Tips from a Master Story Teller.” SA Johnson. The Writer (December 2008), 20-23. The Writer is a magazine written by writers for writers.

Summary: Interview with fiction writer Elizabeth Cox. Question: What advice do you have for new writers…? Answer: “Read. Read. Read. And pay attention! Reading good writers will help you pay attention to detail: the way gestures reveal true emotions, the dialogue of people around you, the way an event unfolds in your life and in others’ lives. I read poetry every day because poets can see nature as a psychic landscape, can use detail to imply larger ideas or emotion. And when you begin to pay attention in this way, you’ll find ways of being amazed again—feeling the kind of discovery in everyday life the way a child does. You’ll never be bored.”

Comment: I read for ideas. I have had to learn how to read for technique, to see how writers achieve their effects.

One of the best writers I have discovered for awakening the reader to the miracles of everyday life is Loren Eiseley. His essays cause me to recognize the detail in life that I overlook when I go through life with other things on my mind, distracting me from the reality around me. You can go through life bored, distracted, uninvolved, unobservant, or you can focus on the world around you—and learn how to write. I’m not giving this advice just to my readers. I’m giving it to me!

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