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Posts tagged ‘unpacking’

Writer as wood carver: exercises in re-visioning, Part 2 of 2

In a writing class taught by Nicola Morris, I learned how to be a sculptor of words. As described in part 1 of this post, she had us take a page of completed work and after each sentence, insert two new sentences.

Now that I’d added 66% more words to my masterpiece, it was time to whittle away the unnecessary fat. The first exercise Nikki gave us is called “unpacking.” It’s a good exercise that teaches us to take our time as writers and fully develop a piece. The next trick was to take these unpacked, expanded pages and whittle them down again—leaving only what’s essential. I think of it like packing and unpacking a suitcase—there’s a whole bunch of stuff in there and each item has its own place…I wouldn’t put my bra in the medicine cabinet with my toothbrush would I?

In order to decide what to keep, I ask myself three questions: 1) What is important to me in this piece?  2) What do I want to say?  3) Which sentences are essential to what I want to say? Read more