How to Know You’re Looking at Bad Writing: One Weird Trick

Back in the 90s, Denis Dutton, editor of the scholarly journal Philosophy and Literature, held a yearly “contest” for bad writing, intended to bring attention to “the most stylistically lamentable passages found in scholarly books and articles published in the last few years.”  Anyone who has spent time in even the middle echelons of higher … Continue reading How to Know You’re Looking at Bad Writing: One Weird Trick

The Thing *Is* the Idea, Or: Dogs in the Writing Classroom

Picture, if you will, a dog. No particular kind of dog.  Just the first dog that pops into your head.  I’ll wait. Got a dog in mind?  Good. Which of these specimens would you say is most like the dog you have pictured? When I give my students this exercise, I ask a few volunteers … Continue reading The Thing *Is* the Idea, Or: Dogs in the Writing Classroom

Writing Exercise: The Bucket

Helps With: Imagery, concrete nouns, active verbs, symbolism. Great readers and writers must be great observers, and great observers hone their observational craft on people, places, and objects.  In other words, they’re always looking at things (which in this case includes people), and watching what those things do. That’s what most writing is about: things … Continue reading Writing Exercise: The Bucket