Please Critique Me

Please critique me,

I don’t mind.

Please be honest,

but be kind.

I  have just finished reading Alan Ziegler’s, The Writing Workshop Note Book.  This book is one that I will add to my desk top. It is more than just a guide for you if you are attending a  writing workshop. It introduces you to the mechanics of a writing workshop and it provides tips for reading, writing, critiquing and teaching the craft.

Ziegler acknowledges that writers’ have different approaches to writing by sharing examples of students he has taught, writers he has known, as well as what he knows about historical writers of the past.  He encourages you as a writer to find your own style and voice.

Interlude 1 is a collection of writing exercises that provide inspiration for all writers, no matter what you write.  One suggestion has already helped me create a long list of new pieces for my memoir collection.

The section called Prepping for the Workshop, is an approach to revisions.  It provides guidelines for critiquing the work of others, but you will also go back to it frequently  to revise your own work.

The closing section has advice to help you accept the critiquing process and to get the most out of it.  Zielger shares several short antidotes about his own experiences that will amuse you and remind you that everyone can benefit from thoughtful critiquing.

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No Sodium or Ohmigosh Sodium?

Yesterday I pulled a cereal box from the shelf.  Poured some in a bowl and added milk.  When I sat down to eat I noticed the writing on the box—“0mg sodium.”  I laughed out loud.  I realized how much time I have spent online when the first thought that went through my head was Ohmigosh sodium.  Of course what it meant was “no sodium” or zero sodium.

Social media is changing the way we express ourselves.  However to express ourselves in an articulate manner requires that we know our audience.  It has always been that way and it will always be that way.  I couldn’t help but wonder if a nine-year-old might interpret the message on the cereal box differently than a senior citizen.

In today’s environment where omg means ohmigosh and lol means laughing out loud (not little old lady), how do we infuse our writing, with expressiveness and clarity, without using a lot of tired old cliché’s?

I pulled out one of my bottom shelf books (see earlier blog…”I Love My Books to Death…).  It is a guide-book written by Arthur Plotnik, The Elements of Expression,   Plotnik lists the following steps to lead us toward expressive writing—

Read

Listen

Savor

Keep a journal

Pause

Scan  (scan the possible choices)

Choose (choose apt expressions for the situation)

Invent (invent fresh ways to use and combine them)

Polish (polish the word order for emphasis and flow)

This book is a useful little book, written in a fun and entertaining manner.  Expressive examples flow naturally in Plotnik’s writing.  In addition to the steps toward expressiveness Plotnik has hints for identifying real voice; how to express force; when and how to use quotes; and how to liven up a tired vocabulary.  This is a book that orators as well as writers will find informative.

If you are currently ‘hanging onto overused expressions as you would a beloved shirt’ you might consider taking a risk.  Try something different.  And by all means pick up a copy of Plotnik’s book.  His website is http://www.artplotnik.com/