If you want to write, you only have to master a few basics.  You don’t have to go back to school for years but you may have to learn a few rules and develop some new skills.  You want to write something worth reading.

I was talking with a man one day who said, “I don’t want to waste my time learning how to, I just want to write.”  This statement was from a born-again Christian who had learned some truths from God and he thought he was the only one who could share them.  He justified his decision not to even begin studying the craft of writing because he believed that the Lord would return before he could complete any kind of training.  Of course he was wrong.  If Jesus returns before we complete a task, we win.

I worked at Tom’s Dairy Freeze in Prichard my senior year of high school.  One of the most difficult skills that Tom required every new employee to master was how to make a perfect soft serve cone of ice cream, a staple for his business.  We had two sizes.

The nickel cone was normally purchased by parents of small children who could not be expected to handle a really tall swirl of the sweet treat.  For this size, all I had to do was hold the handle of the ice cream dispenser down and start filling the cone from the bottom and then make a small swirl as the creamy goo extended above the sides of the crunchy cone.  This was a piece of cake, pretty easy to make.

The ten-cent cone was another story.  In it the goal was to fill the cone from the inside up to the sides and then produce a perfectly symmetrical swirl that extended as high as possible with each pass a little smaller than the last until all there was room for was a small point; the higher the mound, the happier the customer.

As teenage fry cooks we competed for the coveted “Perfect Cone Maker” award.  Our goal was for customers to come in and say, “I want a ten-cent cone of ice cream and I want Wayne to make it.”  Nothing was more disheartening for me than to take an order and have the customer request that Kenny make it.

I am reminded how important it is to develop the art of cone building when I drive-through a McDonalds and be handed a cone that doesn’t contain much ice cream at all and what it does have is leaning heavily to one side threatening to fall into my lap.

I said all of this to say, readers want to read something that is well written, something that starts off well and continues to shape perfectly like out of a cone until it reaches a perfect end.  If it is topped off with special meaning like “a cherry,” they are really happy.

Let me encourage you to learn to fill a cone, maybe make some nickel ones for a while and then continue improving your confidence until you can build a tasty story that is a sweet savor for your readers.

Don’t let my much babbling scare you.  I will share some ideas on how to start and I am always open to questions.  Send a message to me here or on Facebook.

by Wayne Brady 7/20/2012

One thought on “Writing Lesson 1

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