Blog

Bad Writing Friday!

Welcome to Fun Friday! This week we’re going to… yes, you read the title correctly. We’re going to write BAD. ON PURPOSE!

This idea comes from my friend, sensei, and teacher extraordinaire, Charlotte Gullick.

For our first bad writing Friday, we’ll break Strunk and White’s fourth rule of style: Write with Nouns and Verbs. Strunk (or was it White?) says, “The adjective hasn’t been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place.” In short, this rule says to use adjectives and adverbs sparingly.  So my challenge to you is cram as many adverbs and adjectives into your writing sample as you can.

While writing badly on purpose will give you a good laugh, its purpose is broader than that. When I did it for the first time, I recognized the gimps in my regular writing, too. Also, I got over myself. Also, did I mention it was fun? Here’s my example. Post yours in the comments. Let’s get the weekend off on a happy foot.

Joni’s Original

I could see my younger self in her. We crowded in line with other passengers like cattle in a corral. The tall column indicated that I should stand in front of her family while waiting to board my plane. She was accompanied by her husband, Tom, and her two daughters, Alyssa and Kayla. In the ten minutes I stood in line with this little family, I got to know all of them very well.

 

Joni’s Bad Writing (Lots of adjectives and adverbs!)

I could see my slightly younger but not totally young naïve self in her. We crowded stuffily into the snake-like line with tall, short, wide, thin, dark, and light passengers like mooing cattle in an old-timey Western Film corral. The column beside me was tall without being ceiling height, which would have been high, because the ceiling in the airport could almost touch the sky, which is also airy! The woman’s loving and exasperated husband was named Tom, a rather ordinary name if you ask me. Her tween to teenaged daughters(I’m not sure they didn’t really say their ages) were named Alyssa and Kayla, I think both of the “y’s” in their names were there on purpose but I don’t know. In the ten to twelve and a half minutes we stood in the boring frustrating line, I got to know all about this little but sort of dysfunctional and slightly looney family very really awfully well!

 

Community 1.1(First Person Narrative)

Joni’s Original Text

The children cried themselves to sleep. He didn’t come home three nights in a row and she couldn’t sit by the bed rubbing all of their backs until midnight. She was out of hands. Listening to them cry, she half-heartedly picked up the toys in the living room and stood waiting as their cries subsided and returned in wider and wider intervals. The house, then, was a tomb of quiet.

Joni’s Revision(First Person Narrator)

Whenever  he leaves, the children cry themselves to sleep. I don’t have enough hands to pat all three backs. I shuffle around the living room picking up toys while their cries ascend and descend with wider spaces of silence between. At midnight the house finally quiets. The cessation of sound envelops me like a tomb.  I smell the three day old pizza I threw in the trash this afternoon.

Now it’s your turn! Add your own short example in the comments section of this post. Let’s talk about subtle changes affect our thinking and our writing.

 

Person the First:New Year, New POV

img_1365-e1514744824718.jpg
Cropped this picture to remove neck wrinkles. One of the drawbacks of first person narrative: the reader only sees what the narrator wants them to see!

Welcome to blog post 1.1! Here is how the blog will work.

  • On Monday, I’ll post a short description of the revision strategy for the week.
  • On Wednesday, I’ll share an example of my own original work along with my revision. I’ll invite you all to share your examples. I hope we can all learn from each other.
  • On Friday, we’ll have some fun with words. I’m looking forward to this!

We begin our exploration of point of view by looking at the first person narrator. This, simply put, is when the person who is having the story happen to them is also the person telling the story. I’m writing to you now in the first person, because I’m using the pronoun I to describe what I’m thinking.

First person narration looks like this:

“Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how
long precisely—having little or no money in my purse,
and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I
would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.”

Of course, this is the opening of Herman Melville’s classic, Moby Dick. While there are drawbacks to the first person narrator, there are also many advantages to using the eye of the main character as a lens for the story. This narrator can bring a reader to an intimate understanding of the main character’s motivations, relationships, and even their flaws.

Challenge 1.1

Find a piece of writing that’s been deviling you. Switch the narrator to the first person.  It would look something like this:

Original: There were twins on the plane. They were dressed exactly alike. Their dresses were mid-calf with a-line skirts.

Revision:There were twins on the plane.  She is my twin. They dressed exactly alike.  We dress alike when we can. Their Our dresses were hit mid-calf with  and the a-line skirt flares away from our bodies because we like to be modest.

Notice the subtle change that the writing undergoes when I put myself into the narrator’s mind. I added the why about the way they dressed. Even if I choose to tell my story in the third person, I have given myself new material to work with by envisioning the story from the Point of View of one of the twins.

I believe revision strategies are the key to waking our brains up to new and exciting ideas.  I can’t wait to see all of your words!