1. Using a pen (or pencil) and paper, copy a passage from something you think is an example of good writing. The passage should be at least 100 words long. It’s really important that you do this by hand — the physical act of copying is what’s important here. You need to feel the words.
2. After you have copied the passage, go back and underline one word that you think is important in each sentence.
3. Using a thesaurus, rewrite the passage and replace each underlined word with a synonym. (If you don’t have a thesaurus handy, there are plenty online. Try Merriam-Webster.com, and just click the Thesaurus tab by the search box.) You can type this version if you want.
4. Write a reflection about the differences and similarities between the two passages. What is the effect of changing the words? Be as specific as you can be.