Monday, February 05, 2007

writing coach: inspiration, analyzed

If you're following the "80 works in 3 weeks" exercise, I've asked you to collect samples from writers who inspire you in a vareity of genres, and to write down why they inspire you -- what you hope to emulate in each example. Push yourself to say more than just "he's funny" or "she has wonderful insights." Look at the writer's sentences, use of active verbs, word choice, brevity (another word-choice skill). Make a list of those qualities,too. Here's an example and inspiration found in yesterday's New York Times: Dan Barry's roving America column, this time on a bookmobile in New Mexico. His lead grabbed us, but then all his active verbs hooked us completely. Check out this paragraph that glistens with active verbs:
In ascent, the bus pants a trail of diesel exhaust. In descent, its pencil drawer slams against the back of the driver’s seat. Up or down, the fly swatter dangling from a hook swings like a metronome. But the 3,500 books, arranged on slanted shelves, never shift.
That's what you're looking for. Now, go find it and more like it. I'll post later this week about how to plan to write your 80 works in 3 weeks.

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