Things I found, things I am saving for winter

Cory's Pinecone Mound

Hi there!

I found some treasures for you:

Learn to Write by Reading Deliberately

You have most likely heard that the best way to learn to write is to read. But reading by itself is not very useful to writing. The kind of reading that will help you learn to write is much more deliberate.

Here is the best way to ensure that you're reading is deliberate each time:

  1. Remove distractions. Don't use the reading time you have with your children for deliberate practice.
  2. Set a goal. This way, you set your expectations and focus your attention.
  3. Take notes immediately. Rather than simply making observations, ask yourself what the author's intentions are.

Use your notes to evaluate your writing and the critiques you receive.

Here is an example from my notes:

"Cat smelled a roasty, toasty fireplace.

Cat saw a winking light." -Calista Brill, Cat Wishes

  • Calista brings us into the Cat's senses, drawing readers into the moment.
  • Calista uses alliteration. Besides sounding pleasant, it also sets a playful and cozy tone.
  • [General Note] Calista does not give her main character a name. In general, specific names draw you closer to the main character and help you relate to them. However, it seems to work fine in this case since giving names to animals often feels unnecessary.
  • [General Note] There are very few pronouns in this story, and Calista often uses Cat as a substitute. Sentences are short, with very little variety, contrary to popular advice.
  • Calista uses a unique word to describe a flickering light that personifies it and gives it a mystical quality. "Winking" foreshadows the night and helps set the tone for coziness, sleepiness, and endings.

I suggest that you select ten or so "models" for your writing. The point is not to copy your models or even to imitate them, but to check yourself against the models. This way, you won't get lost in circular revisions, which can happen. Likewise, if a critique partner points out a problem in your manuscript, check the critique against your models.

If you enjoyed this newsletter​, please consider sharing it with a friend.

xx Cory

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