Saturday, May 2, 2009

What do you dislike about bad writing?

Pink Hibiscus a

The word is 'dislike', not 'hate'. The difference is acute. 'Dislike' provides much fodder for amusement. 'Hate' produces much fodder for annoyance. I prefer being amused to being annoyed. Besides bad writing is rather enlightening. You wouldn't know what was good if you didn't know what was bad, would you?

So, anyway, here's a list about what I dislike about bad writing -

  • Building up a curve of suspense and then dropping it into sheer inanity. What a fall that is.
  • Making cultural bloopers. Like assigning Muslims to a Buddhist Nirvana, as in a James Clavell novel. Like being condescending about 'native' people, characterizing them as mass-produced twits rather than individuals with individual agendas. Like going overboard about 'Eastern Spirituality'.
  • English usage in the local newspaper English, which can be both hilarious and cringeworthy. Here you encounter treasures like "opines she/he", "says she/he", "grins she/he", "'expostulates she/he", "avers she/he" and so on. Sometimes the staff writer is either clueless about word meaning or, else, brutally honest. And so you get artists who 'creatively amputate' the figures in their artwork or who are 'sadistically creative'.
  • The unisexual use of the word "actor". Non! Men should be "actors" and women should be "actresses". If not, let's all be women and see how we like it.
  • SMS language. It g8s m gOt.
  • Pretentious writing. The sort of writing that twists its arm around its body to pull its nose, rather than grabbing that olfactory organ straight up. The writing that sends fifty sentences to do the work of five.
  • Sentimental writing. The mush that tries to get you to weep with it, feel patriotic with it, feel pious with it, feel romantic with it, oh hell, feel all sorts of things with it. And..... you can't fake up the enthusiasm. The only real emotion you feel is spoony rot.
  • Pompous writing. The rah-rah wah-wah, you-are-nitwits-we-are-not, we-are-first-world-persons-being-kind-to-you-third-world-lot, we-have-come-to-liberate-you-with-our-brand-of-democracy, we-regret-the-collateral-damage, no-problem-we-are-an-ancient-civilization-we-can-take-it, we-are-more-superior-because-we-are-more-ancient-than-you, we-were-great-once-we-invented-the-zero type of writing.
  • Self-conscious writing. The oh-look-I-am-writing-and-somebody-is-going-to-read-it-and-they-will-soon-know-how-smart-I-am-Wheee type of writing.
  • Stiff writing. The oh-look-I-am-writing-and-somebody-is-going-to-read-it-and-I-do-NOT-want-to-make-a-bad-impression-I-want-to-cover-all-bases-I-want-to-be-totally-and-utterly-PC-and-grammatically-correct
  • Unclear, muddled writing. The I-do-not-know-where-to-start-where-to-stop-where-to-end-what-to-write-what-to-think-how-to-think-who-to-believe-what-to-believe-why-I-believe-what-I-believe-what-I-am-even-doing-on-the-planet-which-by-the-way-Jesus-made-Darwin-did-not-and-you-will-go-to-hell-you-sinners. Shows unclear, muddled thinking.
  • Using cliches. Shows a lack of imagination. More herdy than wordy.
  • Bad characterization. Spineless heroines stretching out as eager foot mats for macho-macho heroes. Macho-macho heroes with the kind of manners that would get them arrested, incarcerated and socially ruined in real life. Characters that never leave the cardboard - that is, never seem three dimensional enough. Characters that are continually "biting their lips", "wetting their lips", "rolling their eyes" "snorting down their noses" and "raging at the world". Characters with no adequate explanation or clue about why they behave in a particular way. Characters that behave in a particular way to fulfill the novelist's saintly ideals.
  • Bad grammar and sentence construction. "I finds it funny. I does. But I loves it".
  • Quirky word usage. People, really, "loose" and "lose" are different, "your" and "you're" are different, and "deacon" and "beacon" are much, much different.

I'm not adding adverbs to the list for the simple reason that, in my case, with adverbs, it was love at the first "-LY". Where other writers tread warily, I tread wholeheartedly.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Photo of the Week - May Day - Mayflowers and Gulmohor

Precisely at the stroke of May, the blooms come out. They last for a week or two. Then, for the rest of the year, they fold back into leafy greens.
And here's the Gulmohor. It's a lovely blazing red on a fine summer's day. When the flowers drop off, they make an intriguing red carpet below.
April 2009 026
And the prettiest of all, here's Chubary this morning with Ma -
Chubary and Ma
Related Posts with Thumbnails