Listening to Learn a New Writing Technique

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There are dozens of craft books that are excellent. They teach writing techniques to use to plot, to develop voice, and to develop characters. Check out this link if you want my character questions and more.

My latest discovery?

I have found another way to learn a new lesson using books I have already read.

One of the most basic writing lessons is how to begin a story.

Dad’s beginnings are well known. His writing technique for how to begin a story that led him from being hungry and receiving only rejection slips to being paid, fed and, eventually, one of the best selling authors of all time.

Many years ago(if you have been following me for any length of time you already know about this part of my life) I taught literature and creative writing. I was also fighting cancer at that time. I created my own class, my assignments and my program from scratch the summer before I was diagnosed and then proceeded to teach throughout it all! Crazy times.

At the some point while I was creating my class and teaching my classes I got my first root canal. I was FREAKED out about this so I downloaded one of Dad’s books, Sackett’s Land, to listen to while they worked on my tooth.

I learned two lessons.

One, listening to a book on my phone was superior to listening to music for dental work as it didn’t make me want to sing along. Two, my dad was a master at first chapters not just first lines.

This happens to be something I am currently struggling with on my own book.

I KNOW! I should have this innate sense but, nope, I am still learning!

Listening to Sackett’s Lane I was entertained –all sorts of things were happening to the main character, but what shocked and surprised me was when I heard John Curliss, the narrator, say the words, “Chapter Two.”

I was floored by how much happened in Chapter One.

When I got home I made a list of everything that happened in that chapter and the next day wrote the list on the board for my students. I told them what happened in chapter one and ended this section with “And that is the end of Chapter one.” Every kid in class now wanted to read the book but it was the boys who were really enthusiastic. Even one who had never chosen to read a book for fun.

Listening to the book had made me aware of just how much occurred in Chapter One.

This past April I found myself having an emergency root canal(honestly I have only had two so no lessons on tooth care please) in Dallas with a dentist and then endodontist I had never met. I downloaded Passin’ Through so I could listen to one of Dad’s stories and ignore what was going on in my mouth.

Again I found myself floored when I heard the words, “Chapter Two.”

My suggestion is to listen to a book for something specific. If you are looking for pacing, plot, descriptive or page one help, listening might teach you in a new way. It is so easy to get caught up in a book when we read or when we listen, but you may learn something new. To avoid getting caught up in the story listen to a book you have already read and know well enough to listen for what you need. Use a different part of your brain to learn something new!

Back to study my Dad’s work the way he studied Dumas, Tolstoy, Dickens and Shakespeare.

Let’s see what happens!

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