I've been in a "Laura Ingalls Wilder" phase (again) lately, as I've been reading her books to my daughter. I've been analyzing the last two books in this series, "These Happy Golden Years" which was published while she was living and "The First Four Years" which was published posthumously. The stark difference in these two books is that the latter was published exactly as she wrote it, which was on nickel writing pads in rough draft. It was never edited or "spruced up". It merely tells the facts of the first four years of her life long marriage to Almanzo. The contrast in these two books show how Laura truly made pictures when she wrote. Her sister, Mary, became blind as a girl and their Pa told Laura that she had to be eyes for Mary. Mary once told Laura that she "made pictures when she spoke", since she described things in such detail. As I read her work, I definitely see the prairie, the storms, the laughter. "The First Four Years" lacks this element a bit but not completely. I'm sorry she never got the chance to completely finish it. I still love it anyway!
I've been reading these books since I was 9 and I know that her books made an impact on my interest in writing. Lately, I've been looking for ways to spruce up my writing skills. The first thing I thought of was to practice describing something, think of how many ways to describe it and find surprising or interesting ways to describe it. I was walking down our hill at the time and the sky was bright blue and full of big, puffy clouds. I tried to describe the sky and all that was in it. It was hard! Big, puffy clouds is predictable. What else can one say about them? What exact color blue was the sky? And so forth. It was fun and challenging. Try it!