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Subject: "An excellent short article on bad writing" Previous topic | Next topic
Mesg #91428 "An excellent short article on bad writing"
Author zette     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Jun 12th 2002
13570 posts
Date Tue Aug-28-12 02:27 AM
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This one made a lot of sense to me:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304898704577483133208871806.html

Enjoy!

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Replies to this topic
RE: An excellent short article on bad writing, Weird Jim, Aug 28th 2012, #1
RE: An excellent short article on bad writing, Erin_M_H, Aug 28th 2012, #2
      RE: An excellent short article on bad writing, bonniers, Aug 28th 2012, #3
      RE: An excellent short article on bad writing, zette, Aug 28th 2012, #4
           RE: An excellent short article on bad writing, bonniers, Aug 29th 2012, #5
      RE: An excellent short article on bad writing, Weird Jim, Aug 29th 2012, #6
           RE: An excellent short article on bad writing, Linda Adams, Aug 30th 2012, #7
RE: An excellent short article on bad writing, Weird Jim, Aug 30th 2012, #8

Mesg #91430 "RE: An excellent short article on bad writing"
Author Weird Jim     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Jun 13th 2002
6262 posts
Date Tue Aug-28-12 03:05 PM
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In response to Reply # 0

Tue Aug-28-12 03:12 PMby Weird Jim

You're right, a nice article. I've just saved a copy of it to refer to in case I ever decide to enter the Bulwer Lytton bad sentence contest, even though I've never thought "It was a dark and stormy night" was that bad.

The quote from Amanda McKittrick Ros wins, hands down. And I have to agree that Strunk and White is a great guide.

Here's A link to the BL 2012 winners.

http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/2012win.html

Weird Jim

"Good reading is the only test of good writing"
Robertson Davies. A voice from the attic 1960

  

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Mesg #91431 "RE: An excellent short article on bad writing"
Author Erin_M_H     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Nov 01st 2003
31746 posts
Date Tue Aug-28-12 03:41 PM
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In response to Reply # 1

Tue Aug-28-12 03:41 PMby Erin_M_H

"It was a dark and stormy night" isn't that bad. Madeleine L'Engle used it quite well in A Wrinkle in Time. However, that's not the full line he wrote.

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents -- except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
Actually, I don't even mind the full sentence except for that silly parenthetical.

-- Erin

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Mesg #91432 "RE: An excellent short article on bad writing"
Author bonniers     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list Click to send message via AOL IM
Author Info Member since Dec 01st 2003
25849 posts
Date Tue Aug-28-12 04:41 PM
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In response to Reply # 2

And the silly parenthetical was perfectly acceptable to audiences of the time.

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Mesg #91433 "RE: An excellent short article on bad writing"
Author zette     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Jun 12th 2002
13570 posts
Date Tue Aug-28-12 06:58 PM
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In response to Reply # 3

What many people don't realize is that Bulwar-Lyton was a very popular author of this time. Tastes change. We're in the age of visual media, and we're used to having everything quick and easy to digest. Books back then were meant to be read slowly, with a different type of emphasis on how they drew the reader in.

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Mesg #91443 "RE: An excellent short article on bad writing"
Author bonniers     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list Click to send message via AOL IM
Author Info Member since Dec 01st 2003
25849 posts
Date Wed Aug-29-12 10:50 AM
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In response to Reply # 4

Yes. You write something quite differently if you think it's going to be read out loud in one-hour chunks by a person sitting next to a fireplace reading to his family than if you're writing for a private experience. The pace changes, the focus changes, even the content changes.

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Mesg #91450 "RE: An excellent short article on bad writing"
Author Weird Jim     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Jun 13th 2002
6262 posts
Date Wed Aug-29-12 11:37 PM
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In response to Reply # 2

I've just remembered that Elmore Leonard's first rule of writing is to never open with the weather. He's right, isn't he? If you do people will never remember the book or it's author.

OK. So Paul Clifford is an exception, but it was fun to realize it.

Weird Jim

"Good reading is the only test of good writing"
Robertson Davies. A voice from the attic 1960

  

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Mesg #91451 "RE: An excellent short article on bad writing"
Author Linda Adams     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Feb 05th 2006
1548 posts
Date Thu Aug-30-12 06:54 AM
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In response to Reply # 6

I have seen a book that opened with the weather -- and it was excellent and creepy. Granted, it opened with a bear finding a body because of the weather ...

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Mesg #91452 "RE: An excellent short article on bad writing"
Author Weird Jim     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Jun 13th 2002
6262 posts
Date Thu Aug-30-12 02:58 PM
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In response to Reply # 0

One other thing that stood out to me in the article Zette linked to was where the author said that many people don't care about the writing as long as it's comprehensible. I think that making your book 'comprehensible' should be the first aim. After all, you're telling a story -- most times that is. If a reader can't follow or understand the story, all the fancy writing in the world won't stop them from putting the book aside if it's that hard to comprehend.

Weird Jim

"Good reading is the only test of good writing"
Robertson Davies. A voice from the attic 1960

  

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