Dead Caterpillar


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A few bad writing habits

Sunday, Aug 22nd, 2010

[Author's note: This piece was written near the beginning of summer. I decided to submit it somewhere cool for publishing because of how educational it was. I ended up submitting it to Novelist Larry Brooks' website StoryFix.com which, by the way, is a very cool place and a great resource for aspiring fiction writers. Brooks liked A Few Bad Writing Habits and made some minor edits before publishing it a few weeks ago. What you see here is my final edited version of Brooks' edited version. That sort of makes it an ultra edited version. Enjoy.]

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A few bad writing habits
by Chris Scott

I’d like to take some time to write about a few bad writing habits.

The first bad habit I want you to be wary of is any unnecessary use of the first person.

The second bad habit is to reference the reader in the second person with words like “you” or “your.” You got that?

And the third bad habit is to create a numeric lists of things to represent new points in your work.

Below, I would like to tell you about some more things that qualify as bad writing.

You should never reference other information in your work through relative locations (see previous paragraph above).

Try not to use slang and cliches, because they’re just not down with it, if you catch my drift.

Also, don’t often separate independent clauses with semicolons; semicolons are evil because they break rhythm.  There are cases where you can avoid using semicolons altogether but the problem with that is that you could end up with a very long, very obnoxious run-on sentence that seems to drone on and on forever and not stop, sort of like the energizer bunny which keeps on going, keeps on going and keeps on going.

Probably the most egregious, atrocious, despicable writing practice is the overuse of adjectives. Adjectives are deplorable. Almost as evil as semicolons.

Use small sentences.

Don’t unintentionally use incomplete sentences. Like this. Or that. Or whatever.

Don’t pontificate with your grandiose words of Brobdingnagian proportions that no one understands.

Don’t start a paragraph the same way three times consecutively.

Sometimes “who” and “whom” can be confusing. However, there is one thing that is even more confusing than both those words. That one thing is probably something you will never guess. That thing is very difficult to believe. The thing is when you make the subject of a sentence unclear.

What thing are we talking about again?

We will now cover some more important stuff.

Yes, that’s correct, signified by the word “we,” there is now more than one author writing this article. Meet my alter ego: Ed. He has a particular distaste for denotative errors that can very negatively effect your writing.

Words should be used objectively, in a formal manner. Dig what I’m saying? And sentences that have absolutely no logical connection should not be juxtaposed!

Also, sometimes when you get giddy and excited about something, guess what? The reader isn’t excited along with you! So using exclamation points just makes you look like an idiot! Stop it! Avoid them, until you learn how to use them! How bout’ that? Can you now see why it is important to stop using exclamation points? And why you should stop asking so many questions in your text?  Of course!

Maybe, sometimes you should be more confident in your assertions but you don’t always have to be like that all of the time.

And be very very careful to not use quite a lot of excess quantifiers … often.

Be brief, like Hanes. But lay off on the puns. They can sometimes get you into trouble, kind of like how guns, knives, explosives, hate-speech, attitudes, bad friends, overages and long lists can get you into trouble.

Use merisms rather than long lists. But don’t expect people to know the meanings of archaic words.

In conclusion, it’s best to not be so explicit about the fact that you are concluding your work by using overused phrases like ‘in conclusion.’ Your conclusion should start subtly and not end abruptly.

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