The Copy Trick to Leveling Up Your Writing

(Image: One of the polygraphs used by Thomas Jefferson, a portable version —… Neat “machine.” I saw it in person visiting Monticello once and was excited because I’d just read we know what we seem to know about Rome thanks to Cicero, who seems to have made copies of all his correspondence. Jefferson has always been a hero of mine, and the more I learn the more important he seems to be, even as other figures diminish in my eyes, but that’s another blog, of course. For this post I remembered Jefferson’s polygraph, as it literally penned two copies of what you were writing.)

I read once that you tend to write like you’re reading, meaning if you’re reading Clive Barker and writing at the same time you might be surprised to see your writing resembling Clive Barker, for example. And then I found it to be true! We pick up little mannerisms, sometimes, from those around us, and so on, but it seems true enough that any of us might be liable to mimic or pick things up just as we might influence those we hang with in the same way. But when it comes to writing this is kind of neat. In fact you can use it. For one thing, you might not jump around too much in your reading if you’re cranking out those last few chapters of your own book, at least not too wildly in terms of style of what you’re reading. And it’s a neat way to inform, guide, and influence your own writing — Read someone you admire the writing of while you write or edit. (The larger lesson is READ! Those who read a lot never feel like they do, those who don’t care to read much might not make the best writers, obviously, right?)

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Good Writing

STEVE MARTIN SAID, “Comedy is making people laugh without making them puke.” That, in essence is what good writing can be, striking a delicate balance that entertains and informs in most of our cases, without breaking milieu, being more interested in our subject than interested in ourselves, and just talking genuinely. As Hemingway said, and I paraphrase, “All first drafts are shit,” so it’s important to also understand good writing is developed, rarely simply spewed. But by flowing through a first draft and an optimum number of passes in editing, you too can bring out your inner writer in the best light and get results with your writing.

“Great writing” and “great writers” are other subjects.

Good writing depends on your genre and purpose.

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Write Right Through!

Image (C) Pixabay

ONE OF THE MOST common questions, complaints, and concerns I hear is that a writer edits while they write, or stops and edits a chapter before moving on, and so on. They get stuck. Stephen King and so many others recommend you do not do this–-do not start editing until you have your first draft. Then edit all you like. In fact use placeholders, such as (in fiction) “crime scene.” Then you can go back and talk to cops about crime scenes and so on. Continue reading “Write Right Through!”