Writing Right with Dmitri: Gaining New Perspectives
A lot of times, our writing suffers because of our preconceived notions about a topic. That's true no matter how open-minded we are (or think we are). Try this exercise to see what I mean and get a tip for refreshing your approach.
I'm going to pick on Ireland this week, because it's March, and the Post is running Irish stuff this month.
- Write down up to 10 things you think about Ireland and the Irish off the top of your head. Include stuff like 'it rains all the time' and 'they drink a lot'.
- Now, go and look on the internet. Do some research. Write down up to 10 things you learned about Ireland and the Irish that surprised you.
- Compare your lists. Were any of your preconceived ideas justified? Were some overturned? Cool, huh?
Now, sit down and write a paragraph or two about a conversation in a pub or coffee shop somewhere in Ireland. Try to make it authentic. If you like, post it here, and we'll get KB, Beatrice, Recumbentman, or Gnomon to breeze by and critique what you got right or wrong.
Even if you don't want to share, try this at home. You'll be surprised at what you learn.
Now try it again – with Kazakhstan.
For extra credit, watch this video. (Steel yourself, and don't blame me, I didn't write it.) Now, list the reasons why this is cultural appropriation, inaccurate, and generally Bad.
Hint: look at a map of Ireland, and trace the course of the 'little brook'. Leonard Wibberley once remarked that this brook was longer than the River Shannon.
Now, remember to include unexpected (but accurate) information in your writing. If I had a nickel for every time those editors said, 'Are you sure? That wasn't what I thought it was like…', I could retire to Ibiza.
Which I understand is a very nice place…maybe it's near Glocca Morra…