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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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