In my workshops I am always urging writers to read as writers, that is, actively, rather than as a consumer, passively. Here is an example of what I mean. In my previous blog post, I noted how much I admired the vividness and sense of depth and-- I should also add that voluptuous syntax-- in this sentence on page 62:
"The countess, too, from behind the pineapples, never forgetting her duties as hostess, cast meaningful glances at her husband, the redness of whose face and bald head, it seemed to her, constrasted sharply with his gray hair." (p.62)
This strikes me as an excellent opportunity to try what I call an "emulation exercise": varying the most of the nouns and verbs but staying with the syntax.
Sally, too, from behind the open box of Cheerios, never forgetting her duties as mother, cast meaningful glaces at her mother-in-law, the doughiness of whose face and white sweatsuit, it seemed to her, contrasted sharply with her black hair.
Robin, too, from behind her briefcase, never forgetting her duties as legal counsel, cast meaningful glances at her client, the sallowness of whose face, it seemed to her, contrasted sharply with her Hawaiian mumu.
Ayy, I could do these all day. Here's one (of an infinite number of) formulas:
[Name], too, from behind [object on table she is sitting at], never forgetting her/ his duties as [role], cast meaningful glances at [other person], the [color] of whose face and [something else], it seemed to her, contrasted sharply with [something else].