Guest Post from Nikolas Baron from Grammerly!
What You Can Learn From Bad Writing
In high school, one reads the classics. To study symbolism and extended metaphor, some courses focus on the novels of Steinback. If youths are interested in the struggles of coming of age, they can follow the life of Holden Caulfield through the pages of Catcher in the Rye. On the Shmoop website, I Know Why a Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou yields commentary on at least eight literary devices. Is there anyone who denies the valuable lessons that these classic pieces of literature teach about creative expression? I should hope not. However, who champions poorly written literature? If no one volunteers else, I nominate myself. To serve this great cause, I want to pay the awkward, illogical, and ineffective writing the attention that it deserves. We all are sure to learn a thing or two!
We have all watched bad movies. I do not want to be too specific, but I have a certain one in mind. In this film, the characters are flat. The romantic side plot is forced and unconvincing. According to my personal theory, the romance feels so far-fetched due to the mismatched qualities of the two lead characters. The couple has little in common; no reason is given why they begin developing feelings for each other. What is the lesson? The audience needs to “see” the invisible sparks that cause romantic interest bounce between two actors to appreciate the budding romance. The authorities agree; one must create this chemistry with words. In a blog, Jennifer Echols suggests that a writer should dig a hole, and then fill it up. In other words, create a need in one character that is fulfilled by the qualities of the love interest. Then, readers understand why the pair is made for each other.
How long does it take you to realize that an email is spam? Within a few seconds, you click the delete button to discard the unsolicited correspondence. How do you know that it is not a “real” email? First, the writing style is usually a dead giveaway. No one in my life addresses me as a “dear esteemed friend.” Additionally, grammatical and spelling errors abound. As a fascinating aside, a leading researcher at Microsoft Research’s Machine Learning Department claims that the neglect of grammar is intentional. Poor writing only attracts the most likely victims, gullible types who believe anything that they read. The bookworms who will be reading your manuscripts will spot mistakes a mile away. These faults will repel rather than attract the scholarly. Rather than allow your laborious efforts end up in someone’s junk folder, use an online proofreader to weed out errors.
Too Much Leftover Mystery
Within the first six pages, it is obvious that the culprit is the insecure gardener with the suspiciously radiant rose blossoms. Two hundred pages later, the author confirms your deductions in the concluding paragraph. Isn’t that the worst? Learn from the inferior novels. If your plot includes a mystery, create several characters with plausible motives. Use characterization to make these characters live in the reader’s mind. If possible, surprise yourself with some of the things the characters say and do.
If you lose your copy of Catcher in the Rye, do not despair. Imperfect writing is plentiful. The next time you read a movie script, examine the unrefined features of the plot. If you are interested in the effects of poor grammar, you can find lovely specimens of unsolicited scams in your junk mailbox. To learn how not to write, ask around for bad novels and articles. Lots of people would be happy to donate them for your educational pursuits. Before long, you will have a long list of what not to imitate in your own writing.
Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.