October 29th, 2009
Steering the Craft

I think I first saw a mention of Steering the Craft on PBW’s site. I looked it up, read the reviews and thought they sounded interesting enough to pick the book up.

The book has exercises geared for improving your writing craft. I started working through it yesterday. I plan to do a chapter a day until I’ve finished the book. So far it’s interesting. Definitely not like any craft book I’ve read before. The first exercise was based on the ‘sound’ of your writing. It gives several examples of ways authors have played with the sound of words, then asks you to come up with something of your own. I have to admit I was intimidated by this exercise because although I understood what the author was asking for, I didn’t quite get what I needed to do. (I’m a very literal learner. It takes me a while to understand most questions.)

Anyway, this is what I finally ended up with:

Jack on his back. Lazy child. Lazy child. Wandering down the path to nowhere. Jumping bean. Jumping bean. The magic is somehow lost. Whispers in silence. Cutting dreams. Slashing ideas. So we cound clouds instead. Fluffy white. Fluffy white. Drifting paintings in the sky. Ever changing with the wind.

Grass tickling our backs. Pushing us off to prepare for autumn. Soon leaves will fall. Orange and yellow. Orange and yellow. Red tears lie dormant on the ground. Cycles never end. School days. School days. Bells ring, sending everyone scampering to the bricks. Recess is over.

The whole point of the exercise is to create sounds in your writing. I could’ve gone the easy route with words like buzz, hiss, plop, etc. , but I wanted to do something different. Besides, ‘Jack on his back. Lazy child. Lazy child.’ jumped into my mind immediately.

I like the idea of working on craft through ‘structured’ exercises. It helps me understand what the instructor is trying to teach. Are any of the writers out there working on their craft? If so, how?

4 comments to “Steering the Craft”

  1. Hi Jordan. Sounds like an interesting exercise. Personally, I could never get into “how to” or craft books. I’d purchased a couple but never cracked the spines. Don’t know if its because I’m afraid I’ll actually learn something or afraid it might mess with what I have learned and know to work.

  2. Sounds like an interesting book. I haven’t read it. I’ve worked on a lot of craft stuff over the years but I’m not focused on any particular thing right now.

  3. Liz, I understand being concerned about the craft books. It’s a fine line between helping and hurting. At this point, I’m trying to get my writing to the next level. For me, that means going back to the beginning to make sure I have the bones down. 🙂

  4. Charli, I’m working my way through several craft books at present. I’ve narrowed down what I consider the best ones out there on various subjects and I’m going to systematically go from book to book. First Steering the Craft, next Save the Cat, etc.