Analyzing writing

by Intermittent Rain ~ December 19th, 2010. Filed under: Thoughts about Writing.


* Modified January 25th, 2011 *

I was a music composition major in university and one of the things that my composition teacher required was score reading. Score reading means to take a bit of a string quartet or orchestral work and be able to play a reduction of it at the piano regardless whether you are a pianist or not. And in theory classes we analyzed music looking at the formal structure, root elements such as motives and their later development, harmonic structures, contrapuntal elements, and as many different ways as there were to analyze pieces of music.

I feel that I need something similar in connection with writing. I don’t feel that I understand enough, that I don’t have a strong grasp of technique and the craftsmanship behind writing.

It’s different with music. Not everyone can play an instrument and that itself acts as a barrier to entry. Well, at least to some. But everyone can write and so there is no basic barrier.  Since everyone can write, many people do so, and without any idea about the craft behind good writing. I know someone who asked on Facebook for recommendations for writing classes and was disdainfully told to “just write”. That proves my point, especially as one of the comments came from someone who writes poorly himself.

So my plan is to at least begin the process of taking writing and analyzing some writing. I used to do some in lit classes as an undergrad but I haven’t done any since, and none with the perspective of a writer myself where I should also be looking at writing choices that the author has made in the process of writing.

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