Writing as a Second Language: The Authors Collection.


“You see what I’m saying?”

“No, I hear what you are saying. I cannot see it.”

Does that conversation sound familiar?

Have you been tempted to respond that way when someone asks if you can see what they are saying?

Has an author ever given you a plot that you could see?

Have you ever told a story and your listeners responded favorably?

Ever notice how good the story was when you had good listeners?

The story got even better when the listeners were better.

Was their response so favorable, that you decided to put that same story into writing?

How long did it take to reduce a two minute story to print?

Whether you were writing longhand or typing, it’s highly likely that it took much longer to write the same story that previously was available only verbally.

Ever wonder why?

WASL cvrDonald Davis has.

He wondered so much about it he did lots of research to produce his book: Writing as a Second Language: From experience to story to prose.

His research focused on teaching non-writers how to write.

Just as Betty Edwards has shown that willing students can learn to draw (and draw well), Davis asserts that non-writers can be taught to become accomplished authors.

Here’s another conversation you’ve probably had:

“Don’t ask Janice what time it is.”

“Why not?” is the reply.

“She’ll spend an hour telling you how the clock works and you’ll never find out the time.”

The trait of being a great storyteller doesn’t give you a free pass on becoming a great writer. In Writing as a Second Language, Davis details the five-step transition of the spoken word (stories) into print. He defines and reviews the development of language. In this case, to become better purveyors of the written word, practitioners are well-served by knowing how the clock works. It saves time.

Davis reveals the logic behind the title as he explains that writing, like learning a foreign language, is a skill the student learns.  Few of us are born “natural” writers. For the rest of us, we can rely on Davis’s five-step (thank God it isn’t twelve steps) plan to become a better writer.

No doubt, some writers have been employing Davis’s recommendations for years unconsciously.

Now we can all become better writers, on purpose.

“You hear what I’m writing?”

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    An interesting concept, Chip. I’m not sure I entirely agree with Donald Davis, but he does make a good argument. I think his philosophy can make a good writer better. I don’t believe he can make a bad writer good. For example, I can learn to play the guitar and strum three chords, but I’ll never be able to sit down and really play like a Nashville sideman. You either have the gift or you don’t.

  • Darlene Jones

    I tend to agree with Caleb. No matter who tried to teach me, I could never become a singer. I just don’t have the talent. I think the same applies to writing. A person can learn to write and get better with practice, but that doesn’t mean they’ll become great authors.

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