Writing 101

As I came up through the ranks, I learned from some of the best.  I also spent time at Gotham Writer’s Workshop, which sent me away with yet more experience, and a broader appreciation for the written word.  Now, since I don’t proclaim  Grammar Girl skills, I won’t present you with charts and graphs, just a few sentence challenges.  When I became serious with my writing, I knew what my heart said, so I threw it all up on the page.  This is what we are taught – after which, you go back and write it with your head.  Now, I said that to say, at the time, being new to this particular game, although I went back and wrote it with my head, there were some hard and fast rules that required learning.  As one keeps writing, the regulations become like concrete in your brain, and has never failed to serve me well.  Occasionally I go back and peruse my earlier pieces and ask myself, how far I thought I would get with them.  I’m not ashamed to confess, although filled with sentiment, I had far to go with language and structure.

The courses at the workshop basically confirmed everything I heard and witnessed at my organization meetings and my critique sessions.  I had things coming at me from both the group and school.  At times, I wanted to give up because it appeared I had forgotten basic English, structuring a sentence, and the usage or should I say avoidance of a host of verbs.  For a long time as I wrote, I peered over my shoulder every time I mistakenly used one of those words, as though a hand would come along and smack mine or a finger would waggle in front of my face.  My peeves; my most irritating verbs, and the ones that changed my writing tremendously, that is, once I learned to stop using them:  Was – Feel – See – Saw – Look – To be.

Let’s work a few sentences, shall we?

  • The school around the corner was mobbed when the news got out.

The mob descended on the school the minute the word leaked out.

  • I feel so happy knowing you’re here.

Whenever you’re here, I’m always filled with happiness.

  • I can see the parade making its way to the corner.

I caught a glimpse of the parade, and it’s coming toward the corner.

  • I saw that man throwing out the evidence.

I stood at the corner, and witnessed each piece of evidence he trashed.

  • When I look at you I remember how it all began.

The minute you popped through the door, I remembered how it all began.

  • The copier needs to be fixed.

The copier needs fixing.

Now, you’ll notice these are simple second grade sentences.  I used them strictly for effect.  I also have to say – to be – I still have a problem with; I always have to check my work, because it unconsciously sneaks itself into a sentence.  Oh, and have been is also good for finding its way into the mix.  What’s the quote, “The only way to learn to write is to write.” – Peggy Teeters.  My basic conditioning involved ousting the laziness from my brain and putting it to work.  Like I said, I’ve been at this seriously for thirteen years, and I’m still learning.  So, don’t think for an hour, it’s you alone.  Well, that’s enough Writing 101 for today.  Back to work.

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23 thoughts on “Writing 101

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