Writing: just “pieces” to master.

Most likely, you’ve been told a lie:
“Writing is hard.”

Writing is not hard to do. But it’s special to learn.
in that it’s a skill, just like anything else.
And learning skills is hard work.

Writing is the perfecting of multiple skills —
those little things to know and to practice
until you get really good at it
(once again, just like anything else).

So if you want to write well, then you must
master the small things of writing.

The problem is,
there are so many darned small things.
(So many pieces…)

  • Choosing right words (“diction”)
  • Putting words in an order with the best sense (“syntax”)
  • Knowing (and using) the power of punctuation 
  • Choosing the sentence length with the right power to
    carry  the idea
  • Understanding and carving the form in line and paragraph
  • Choosing and molding complete ideas into bells that ring
    with concise, clear, crisp melody
  • Listening to the music of the words on the page, and then
    learning to tweak (edit) for the perfect symphony of sounds,
    rhythms, and ideas.

Yes, writing is music.  The clicks and pops, the lulls and smooth
waves of words washed together; the murky dirge or the poetic,
radiant light flitting across the page, forming the silvery line or
jagged intimation with power.


I don’t believe writing is hard to learn. It’s just a lot to learn.
And it’s hard to perfect.

Getting the pieces is work. Hard work.
Especially if you want to write a book.

George Orwell once said, ““Writing a book is a horrible,
exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful
illness. One would never undertake such a thing if
one were not driven on by some demon whom one
can neither resist nor understand.”

And another favorite…
(More like this…)

Well, then.
You want to write?
You 100% can.

(And you can do it well.)
You have to really want it.

Stoke the desire.
(set your mind and heart)

And find those places to learn.
Find the mentor. Take the class.
Read. And read some more.
Try out what you learn.
Grow the skills.
Work it.

Because the payoff is amazing.
It’ll feel so good, to master the pieces,
to hold that book, to leave the legacy,
to create, and to know that you finally
did it.

* Cheers!
Dark Roast with a touch of soy


  1. Erin – What would you say is the best way to learn to write descriptive passages? This is one of the things that gives me the most trouble when writing fiction.

  2. Good question, Cliff. Here’s some info —

    Description and setting are both all about the senses: Sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Researchers tell us that we notice light sources first, then loud or unusual sounds or smells. We also sense the size of a room/space before we notice details.This cool knowledge helps us to know what order to write out our descriptions.

    When entering a scene, start with the light source and size of space, move to memorable pieces of the environment that contain meaning, and end with details that the character touches and personally interacts with.

    Meaning is the key. We don’t just describe to describe. Each piece sets a tone or space that will be used in the story. (Everything really has to have a purpose.)

    Description happens in many places — not just in an information dump at the beginning. It can take pace in-between dialogue (“I don’t get it!” he said, shifting the damp rock across the front of his flannel shirt and then, with a grunt, heaving it onto the pile…), within dialogue (“You sure that rock isn’t too wet to do what you’re doing? I mean, it’s pretty heavy. You could hurt yourself…”), and in straight-up description (The rock slid across the man’s belly, leaving a smear of reddish clay against the blue and white checked flannel.) We mix up which ones we use. It’s pretty fun.

    Oh, and remember, “everything has a purpose”? The blue and white flannel shirt carries a tone and assumptions with it, for the character. If I put him in a white dress shirt, you’d make different assumptions about him, right? (I love this stuff!)

    Finally, the amount of description that you use also depends on how fast the story is moving in that particular moment.

    When in the middle of a sword fight, we’re not going to notice the greenery on the side of the path — and when in a car chase, we’re not going to notice the type of business we’re passing on the street. Fast scenes = less description (or close-in description, such as the grip on the hilt or the clang of the blades). Likewise, when we’re in arguments or fast-paced conversation with emotion, most likely, we won’t notice descriptive pieces around us. It’s when we’re quiet and calm that we notice the world more fully.

    Let your description follow these guides, for when and how much to put in sensory details.

    If you want more, I have a four-session recorded online class just on this called Description & Setting. It can be accessed for $30 for one month (pretty good price, and I’m sure just about anybody can watch four hours within the month’s time) with Homeschool Connections’ Unlimited Access program. Though the course is geared for teens, adults take the course all the time in recording because it’s such a good deal (you actually get access to about 200 courses for the $30, so if you want to, you can check out the nine other fiction writing courses, too :). You get me teaching, additional readings, and more. Check it out here: http://homeschoolconnectionsonline.com/unlimited-access-1.

    Thanks for letting me go on for a bit… I tend to get excited about fiction writing :).

    Cheers *lifts coffee cup,

    • Thank you, Erin. Go on for as long as you want, that’s great info – real, actionable info. I appreciate the extensive answer. Now I’m off to put it to use.

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