Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wretched Writing

This book was so. funny.  I laughed my head off and then read aloud large portions of it.  This was one of those infectious books that makes you want to read it aloud to everybody you walk past.   My poor family very kindly listened to long sections of this book.

Basically, Wretched Writing is a compendium of terrible writing in both old fiction (Little Women) and new (an article in the New York Times).  The point of the book is the acknowledgement that lots of people write terribly at times and the various ways they can screw up their writing. There are long paragraphs of run-on sentences and sentences where you have to wade through the knee-deep adjectives to get to the verbs and nouns and sentences so flowery and bad metaphor-filled that the reader is blushing for the author.

But among all of the various writing mishaps, my favorite is the dangling modifier.  Oh dear.  Whenever I read a string of those, I end up laughing my fool head off.  If you don't know what a dangling modifier is, here's an example, drawn from a random website:

"While driving on Greenwood Avenue yesterday afternoon, a tree began to fall toward Wendy H's car."  (Credit: http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000012.htm)
See the problem with this?  But you have to admit, it's a pretty funny picture.  This isn't the funniest I've seen.  There was one from the book that said, "Spreading a silk handkerchief on her lap to wipe the drips of the cantaloupe, she began to chew thoughtfully on it."  Hee!

My one complaint about this book would the the vulgarity of some of the examples.  I just skipped over some of them and read some of them and rolled my eyes, but the vulgarity is really not necessary.  Although maybe I've found a correlation…vulgar authors are terrible writers…?

In spite of this minor complaint, I would recommend this book.  It's funny and a perfect read for a stickily hot summer day.  I really enjoyed it.

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