Thursday, March 7, 2013

Deliberate Practice: Description

Shannon Hale showed exemplar description in the sample of The Goose Girl.  Perhaps she worked hard at it; perhaps description is one of her favorite parts.  No matter what it was, we can use it to inspire our own deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice is a term I first heard in relation to Malcolm Gladwell.  In Outliers, he brings up the concept that expertise or practice is founded on 10,000 hours of practice (39-40).  These hours of practice are done "purposefully and single-mindedly" with "the intent to get better" (39).  In other words, deliberate practice.

That’s the purpose of this blog series, and it will start with description.  In this case, we want to write a sketch or a story with the intent to pay particular attention to and to improve our techniques with description.  Here are some possibilities:

  • Originality--a different way of "seeing" something or creative figurative language.
  • Emotive writing--making the reader feel something with your details.
  • Other senses--focusing on non-visual sensory details.
  • Supportive description--using description to emphasize plot, tension, etc.

You can also combine several or create your own focus for your practice, but the point is that it goes into an actual piece of writing, which can be a complete story or a scene or a sketch.

The key is to have fun with the work, in both senses of the word--manuscript and effort.  Toward that end, I'll post a link to my own result, and I'd enjoy doing the same for others.  If you cannot share yours, send me a link to post about your attempt or process.  Or you can send me both, for I’d like to see both.

That's it--let's all have fun with our work!

Works Cited

Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers: The Story of Success. New York: Back Bay Books, 2008.  Print. 

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