Being your own Critic
Critically reading your own work is an important, difficult and risky task. Important because self-consciousness is a necessary part of creating a work of art: if we want to improve we need to know our strengths and our weaknesses. Difficult, because critical distance from our own writing can never be truly achieved. And risky because self-consciousness is the enemy of spontaneity.
Try the following exercises:
- Take a piece of your own writing -- perhaps a full chapter if you have one written -- and strike out every adjective, adverb and modifier with a pencil. Now, taking a rubber, allow yourself only those words whose presence you can justify.
- Read a piece of your own writing over and over -- both aloud and silently. Listen to the music of your sentences, ignoring the meaning. Notice any repetitiveness or cacophony. Mark sentences which appear clumsy, and then rewrite them, listening with your inner ear.
- Take a passage from a novel by a writer whose style you admire. Analyze each sentence, looking for the author's use of verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs and qualifiers. What is the effect of their technical choices? Now write one of the scenes from exercise 1 in the style of this author. Compare the effect of the original version with the second version.
~ Writing a Novel, by Nigel Watts