Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Fast, Fun, Better Writing


This week's writing tip combines relaxation and work. No, now that I think about it, it is all work.

What is the best thing any of us can do to improve our writing?

The answer is right here in this picture.

A week ago, chilly enough for a fire -- in June.

Drink tea?

No. The best way to improve writing is to read. Read the type of material you want to write, but read everything else, too. While you are reading, keep your analytic mind engaged. Be aware of the mechanical details -- not just of the words -- everything.

I was reminded of this when Gentleman Friend received a free copy of Western Horseman magazine.

 A horse has never been a part of my life; however, as I flipped through the magazine, I soon was engrossed in reading.

The articles are constructed like articles in most magazines, but because I know nothing about the subject, the structure of the article became apparent. Opening paragraph, reporting, background, flashback, vocabulary, quotes, setting, conclusion that tied back to the opening. It was all there, but it was easier to see.

Read. Learn. Write.

There you go. That's all there is to it.

Oh, and maybe think a little, but that is harder work -- for another day.


Go to the library. (This is fun already.) Find two magazines about subjects that are of absolutely no interest to you. Photocopy a story from each magazine.

(Here comes another fun part.) Get out your colored markers (If you don't have colored markers, buy some.) (More fun -- a trip to the office supply store.)

Now mark the opening paragraph. Where does it begin? Where does the writer let you know what the story is about? Mark that. Look at the quotes? What purpose do they serve? Where does the writer give background information -- flashback? Mark those places too. Unsure how to use quotation marks? Look at how they are done in the story. Where is setting described?

If you are writing a book -- novel, memoir, history, how-to, for example -- buy some used books that you can mark up. Look at the contents. Look at the overall organization.

Note the techniques you think would work for you -- as well as those you would not want to use.

You get the idea. Read. Learn. Write.


Chocolate Cherry Bomb Cookies
photo and recipe from www.hungryhappenings.com


1 Pillsbury Devil's Food Cake Mix 
1 1/4 cups water 
1/2 cup vegetable oil
 3 eggs 1/4 cup - 
1 tub Pillsbury Classic White Frosting*
30-48 Maraschino Cherries with stems* 
16-22 oz. tempered semi-sweet chocolate (or   dark confectionery coating/candy melts)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake pan/s by spraying with no-stick cooking spray. Blend cake mix, water, oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl until moistened.  Using a hand held mixer , beat on medium speed for two minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan/s.  Bake for 29-35 minutes (see package for specific times for each pan size). Cool cake completely.

Crumble cooled cake into a large mixing bowl.  Add 1/4 cup frosting and mix until well combined. Add more if needed. Scoop mixture out by the tablespoonful.    Roll each scoop into a ball.

Drain maraschino cherries and pat dry with paper towels.  Press one cherry into the center of each cake ball.  Bring the cake mixture up and around the cherry.  Roll in between your two hands to form a nice ball. -

Melt and temper semi-sweet chocolate or melt confectionery coating/candy melts. Dip cake covered cherries in chocolate.  Set on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Refrigerate if using tempered semi-sweet chocolate until set, about 10 minutes.  If using dark candy melts, place your cherry bombs in the freezer until set, about 5 minutes.  Bring to room temperature before serving. –

Note: I do not know why the appearance of the recipe paragraphs is inconsistent. So sorry. But if you are truly dedicated to chocolate, you will be able to rise above my shortcomings. Enjoy!
To learn more about how to use reading to improve your writing and to see short examples, refer to the following pages in your  Write Your Life Story in Eight Weeks Workbook: pp. 7, 11, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 23.

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