Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bad Writing

(Picture courtesy of Mohawk Media)

I don't claim to be a good writer. I realize that I repeatedly use the same words, phrases, and sentence structure in many of my postings.

I would like to imagine, however, that my vocabulary and writing skills have improved because of my voracious appetite for reading. Aside from learning good writing from good writers, I also try to learn how not to write from bad writers.

Who is a bad writer?

A bad writer has a flat writing style. He writes the who, what, where, and why in a robotic fashion and his writing has no soul; his words do not reveal a glimmer of his personality or his essence. He writes in long paragraphs which intimidate a reader and make the reader's eyes glaze over. The topics he chooses may be of extreme interest to a reader, but the way in which he writes immediately causes the opposite effect.

A reader does not want a regurgitation of facts, but rather something personal; the more personal the better. A reader wants to know how this story, teaching, or event affected the writer.

Although I don't claim to be successful in always writing in such a manner, this is the standard that I aspire to.


At May 17, 2007 at 6:06:00 AM EDT, Blogger yitz said...

It's funny that you posted about this.. I've been thinking for a while to write a post encouraging people to proof-read their (Torah-related) posts, it's really a shame seeing such amazing Torah all of a sudden tripped up in the mistaken use of a word, or other typo-graphical error.

and back to the topic:
I'm probably guilty of all the things you mentioned, if you by chance notice such problems in my writing, please point them out..

thanks :)

At May 17, 2007 at 8:17:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Typographical" is one word, without a hyphen.

At May 17, 2007 at 8:19:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, there is no hyphen in "proofread".

At May 17, 2007 at 8:52:00 AM EDT, Blogger yitz said...

thanks anony-mous :)

At May 17, 2007 at 9:45:00 AM EDT, Blogger torontopearl said...

This post makes me recall my teachers who continually told me about my writing: "Show us, don't tell us." That's where description, rather than pure narrative comes in.
Sometimes my details bog me down in my writing, but it's definitely who I am.

At May 17, 2007 at 10:21:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Pearl: Your posting that I linked to in the posting below is indeed an example of good writing.

At May 17, 2007 at 12:01:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is questionable. If you need for example a quick reference - the less personal the better. So it really depends on the situation.

At May 17, 2007 at 1:28:00 PM EDT, Blogger Neil Harris said...

TorontoPerl's quote, is also advice that I heard in 4 different writing classes (the fact that I took writing classses really had no effect on my flat-robotic-postings) I took after college.

It mostly refers to dialogue but can be applied to how we describe things, too.

An example would be the difference b/t reading what it's like to keep Shabbos and actually keeping Shabbos. Great post and wrotten very good. ;)

At May 17, 2007 at 2:06:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our great universities show us how to put out dull, pompous, padded writing to appear professional.

Then our great corporations have to spend big bucks to bring in consultants to tell us the opposite---be concise! punchy! direct! Managers do not have the time or patience to wade through our wasteland of words.

By then, though, many have bad writing habits too ingrained to shake off.

At May 17, 2007 at 8:36:00 PM EDT, Blogger Erachet said...

Wow. You really hit the nail on the head about writing, in my opinion. I'm an aspiring writer so this topic is one I think about a lot. Like someone else said a few comments above this one, I learned that in good writing, you're supposed to "show" not "tell." Also, people need to care about the characters in a story or the author they're reading in order to continue reading more and they can come to caring through reading how the author or characters are effected by events, rather than just reading a record of the events.

I hope this post was coherent. I feel like it got a big confusing towards the end. Ah well.


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