Monday, July 10, 2006

Packer on How to Become a Better Writer

At breakfast this morning with Dr. Packer, I asked him what advice he would give to someone who wanted to become a better writer. Here were the principles he suggested, based on the brief notes I jotted won:

1. Don't write until you have something to say.

2. Know your ideal reader, and write with that reader as your focus as if you're directing all of your thoughts to him.

3. Remember that there are two sides of the brain: the left and the right. The left is the logical side--monchrome gray. The right side handles grammar, imagination, and pictures--that which gives color to life. The way of wisdom in writing is to use color: nouns, verbs, and adjectives that convey pictures. A good communicator appeals to the whole person--both sides of the brain. (C.S. Lewis is a great example.)

4. There is a place for long sentences, but a long sentence should be followed by a short one. Use plenty of short sentences that will jump off the page and hit the reader between the eyes. Readers need variety--both long and short sentences--to keep them awake.