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Reply #6: 'Is it possible to teach someone with no natural aptitude for writing, to write well?' [View All]

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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-23-09 09:17 PM
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6. 'Is it possible to teach someone with no natural aptitude for writing, to write well?'
I think so.

One failing is universal in just about everything I've been asked to edit/critique of other people's writing. The writers simply don't seem to be conscious of what they're putting on the page, but such consciousness is a skill that can readily be learned, because mostly it entails a close reading of the text (one's own or anyone else's).

Lacking that consciousness, you might find yourself repeating the same conspicuous word six or seven times in a short paragraph. It's not necessarily a fatal error, but it's sloppy, and some writer's simply don't seem to notice it in their own work.

I'm not excusing myself from that failure, either; even in my most recent writings I find foolish repetitions or stupidly awkward phrasings or unintentionally humorous word choices, and these more than anything else drive me to edit and edit and edit again.

For instance, something like the following line appears in a current piece I'm writing:
The scent of lilacs rose from the pages of the book.

I wrote that last Tuesday, and during edits I've reread it dozens of times. Yet only last night did it occur to me that lilacs/rose is an unintentional pairing of two flowers. Sure, it's not the end of the world, and it's easily fixed, but the fact that I didn't realize it proves that anyone can overlook an obvious goof in his own writing.

But, as I mentioned, it's a skill that can be learned. It simply takes practice and a willingness to read as carefully as you can.
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  -Where Did You Learn To Write Well? NashVegas  Apr-23-09 11:56 AM   #0 
  - There are two meanings of "writing well"  HamdenRice   Apr-23-09 12:12 PM   #1 
  - I Guess  NashVegas   Apr-23-09 12:43 PM   #2 
  - That's a great answer  Orrex   Apr-23-09 09:05 PM   #5 
  - And then there's learning how to write "well" as in "wishing well". nt  valerief   Jul-22-09 06:44 PM   #36 
  - I haven't, that's why I edit, and edit, and edit  nadinbrzezinski   Apr-23-09 05:24 PM   #3 
  - Good point. Thank you.  Kind of Blue   Apr-23-09 05:42 PM   #4 
  - 'Is it possible to teach someone with no natural aptitude for writing, to write well?'  Orrex   Apr-23-09 09:17 PM   #6 
  - I have this theory that people who really master a craft  EFerrari   Apr-26-09 05:38 PM   #8 
  - You Mean It Was Always An Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?  NashVegas   May-02-09 05:35 AM   #10 
     - Not exactly. It's more that we tend to repeat things that feel good.  EFerrari   May-10-09 03:56 PM   #19 
  - See, I read that and caught it immediately.  Chan790   Jul-21-09 06:36 PM   #35 
  - Sitting at a table.  EFerrari   Apr-26-09 05:29 PM   #7 
  - I can't remember where I learned to write well but I vividly remember where  valerief   Apr-29-09 05:39 PM   #9 
  - Ain't Nothing Like a Literal Mind  NashVegas   May-02-09 05:38 AM   #11 
     - LOL! It's really true, though. Just sitting there and doing it.  EFerrari   May-10-09 03:37 PM   #17 
  - Now, Here's the Reason I Started This Thread  NashVegas   May-02-09 06:39 AM   #12 
  - Sadly, not a new phenomenon. I graduated from high school in 89.  Orrex   May-02-09 07:46 AM   #13 
  - That's Kind of My Point, Though  NashVegas   May-02-09 10:28 AM   #14 
  - As a matter of fact, I did learn to write well in college  Orrex   May-02-09 11:21 AM   #15 
  - I had a great experience with a high school English teacher  sybylla   May-06-09 09:31 AM   #16 
  - Even before kids are asked to write anything, there is or could be the idea  EFerrari   May-10-09 03:40 PM   #18 
  - Writing skills can lead to critical thinking and that's dangerous for a corporatocracy.nt  valerief   Jun-08-09 10:21 PM   #27 
  - Partial reason  NJCher   Jan-17-10 10:26 PM   #38 
  - Three steps to writing well  Ozymanithrax   May-15-09 10:58 AM   #20 
  - You Should Teach High School  NashVegas   May-28-09 06:03 PM   #21 
  - Teaching High school is a thankless job...  Ozymanithrax   Jun-01-09 12:19 PM   #22 
     - You should read some Shakespeares this summer.  valerief   Jun-08-09 10:18 PM   #26 
  - When I first started writing LTTE, it was a game to see how many words I could cut  EFerrari   Jun-06-09 04:19 PM   #24 
  - I agree with you on 1 and 3  BamaGirl   Jun-07-09 08:58 PM   #25 
  - I'm not so sure I DO write well. A couple of literary journal editors  kestrel91316   Jun-01-09 03:20 PM   #23 
  - forum writing  NJCher   Jan-17-10 10:31 PM   #39 
  - Self-taught.  kentauros   Jun-09-09 07:34 PM   #28 
  - Still learning, at least with grammar.  Neoma   Jun-24-09 12:46 PM   #29 
  - In the library,  Tangerine LaBamba   Jun-27-09 06:46 PM   #30 
  - I'm not convinced I'm a good writer, but other people tell me I'm very good.  JTG of the PRB   Jun-30-09 10:21 PM   #31 
  - I completely understand what you mean!  kentauros   Jul-01-09 11:23 AM   #32 
  - i have always found that i was my own worst critic.... stuff i thought was crap  ejpoeta   Jul-13-09 06:01 PM   #34 
  - Limited vocabulary? That's why God invented Thesauruses...  ChicagoSuz219   Nov-03-09 07:09 AM   #37 
     - No, God invented the thesaurus to punish English IA teachers.  EFerrari   Feb-27-10 04:40 PM   #42 
  - I don't know. I just always remember writing stories and things.  ejpoeta   Jul-13-09 06:00 PM   #33 
  - The mechanics, the grammar can be taught.  Ozymanithrax   Jan-19-10 04:35 PM   #40 
  - The school of hard knocks  Haole Girl   Jan-23-10 05:15 PM   #41 
  - Still seeking proof that's the case.  jotsy   Feb-27-10 08:16 PM   #43 
 

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