Originally written by Keith Ogorek
This weekend, the Wall Street Journal ran a column written by Ben Yagoda, English professor at the University of Delaware. He is the author of “How to Not Write Bad: The Most Common Writing Problems and the Best Ways to Avoid Them,” to be published this week.
In the article, he uses an example from his classroom that illustrates the challenges many aspiring writers face today. Here’s excerpt.
My students can’t really handle writing “well.” At this point in their writing lives, that goal is too ambitious. I propose a more modest aim: not writing badly.
Take this sentence, adapted from a restaurant review by a student who was roughly in the middle of the pack in terms of ability: “Walking in the front door of the cafe, the vestiges of domesticity are everywhere regardless of a recent renovation.”
In just 19 words, it provides an impressive selection of current widespread writing woes: dangling modifier (“vestiges” didn’t walk in the front door), poor word choice (“vestiges,” “domesticity,” “regardless”), excessive prepositions (four in all) and an underappreciated but pervasive ill, a weak sentence-subject (“vestiges”).
The fact that someone would write such a sentence in an advanced college class is generally attributed to deficiencies in K-12 education. I don’t doubt that’s a valid criticism, but two other factors are equally important and a bit simpler to address
For the complete and original posting, visit Indie Book Writers
- Book Review: How to Not Write Bad (nancyfriedman.typepad.com)
- Q&A: The Secrets to Not Being a Terrible Writer (newsfeed.time.com)
- Ben Yagoda claims The New Republic ‘borrowed’ from his ‘lady resurgence’ piece (jimromenesko.com)