Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Writing Exercise

Basketball players  practice a lot. The ones who practice hard are the ones who excell in the games they play against opponents and in front of the fans. The guy who slacks off in practice usually ends up warming the bench a lot because he doesn't give much to his team on game night.

Writers are no different. They need to practice, too. And the best way to do that is to do writing exercises. Google 'writing exercises' and you'll come up with a long list to choose from. Or purchase a book of writing exercises. Beginning writers sometimes think they're boring and so they skip them entirely. They want to get on to the real writing. The kind an editor will purchase and publish. To get to that kind of writing, it takes practice. Skipping the exercise step won't be to your advantage.

I've found that doing a writing exercise often triggers thoughts about something I would like to write, or it shows me a place where I've fallen down in my writing. A short, simple exercise reveals much more than you would think. One I partcularly enjoyed doing was on color. The direction given was to write a paragraph or several paragraphs in which a color is described but never actually named. A challenge! My effort is below. Give it a try and then find some other exercises to do. Make it a regular part of your writing routine.

Color Exercise:  Color Exercise #2

Silver: (trying to give a picture of the color without mentioning the word silver. Did I?)

The sun’s rays hit the giant metal symbol and bounced back, almost as if a bullet had ricocheted. I shaded my eyes from the gleam, then tilted my head to get a better look at the newly erected artwork at the entrance to the raceway. It resembled a charger plate meant for a giant’s dinner, a wealthy giant perhaps, for the raised carvings on it spoke of riches. I thought it might fit better in a pharaoh’s tomb than here where men soared around the oval track in souped-up cars, hellbent on nothing but winning the race and downing as many beers as possible afterward.

Every person who approached the new symbol paused to drink in its splendor. Some appeared mesmerized by the opulence, others smiled and moved on, while a few stood transfixed. The lustrous artwork looked richer than gold might have. Hands reached out to touch but stopped short as if in fear of leaving marks on the resplendent, round plate.

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