A Few Bad Writing Habits

A guest post by humor blogger Chris Scott from DeadCaterpillar.com.

Quick intro from your Storyfix host:

There’s nothing funny about bad writing habits.  Or bad writing.  What follows here is neither, though it is funny.

Especially if you miss some of it the first time.  I know I did.  If that’s you, too, it’s time relax.  We aren’t saving the world here.

This piece is wedged somewhere between the rock of sarcasm and the hard place of dry wit.  It’s a little Norm Crosby… and if you don’t remember that name or his grammar-garbling schtick, you’re way younger than me.  L.

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 is to use first person unnecessarily.

The second bad thing is to reference the reader in the second person.  Like, you or yours.  You get that.

And the third thing is to create a numeric list of things (like “first” “second” and “third”) to represent new points in your work.

That’s the first of three things I’m writing about today.

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 last sentence of previous paragraph above).

Try not to use slang and cliches, because they may not be down with it, if you see where I’m comin’ from.

Also, don’t separate an independent and dependent clause with a semicolon. Semicolons are evil.  There are cases where you can avoid using one altogether but the problem with that is that you usually 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 that, as you know, keeps on going, keeps on going and keeps on going.  Ad nauseum.

But probably the most egregious, atrocious, despicable practice is to use too many deplorable adjectives.

Use small sentences. 

Don’t unintentionally use incomplete sentences. Like this.

Don’t pontificate with your grandiose words of Brobdingnagian proportions that no one understands. (Editor’s note; I don’t know who Brobdingnag is, either.)

Don’t start a sentence the same way three times consecutively. Separate new thoughts with paragraphs, otherwise you will end up with walls of text that no one wants to read.  The only thing worthwhile on walls of text is graffiti.

Sometimes “who” and “whom” can be confusing. However, there is one thing that is even more confusing than both of 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 imaginary friend: 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 always! How bout’ that? Can you now see why it is important to stop using exclamation points? And, 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.

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. Your conclusion should start subtly and not end abruptly.

Read more from Chris Scott at Deadcaterpillar.com.


Filed under Guest Bloggers

14 Responses to A Few Bad Writing Habits

  1. LOL!

    That was the best blog post I have ever read so far this year! I think I could use what I’ve learnt from you on tutoring the kids in tuition school about their English language and may be able to actually get more than a merit in their studies in English.


  2. Kelly

    Hello, Larry and Chris.
    Very clever. 🙂
    Would make an excellent introduction to just about any writing workshop and graduate program in English (tempted to use exclamation point here).

  3. This post is brilliant (see paragraph 11).

  4. Nothing to say but nicely done.

  5. Kerry

    I like really like how you said nothing that explained the point better than we would have hoped with examples of what is to be done without knowing it we have been educated!

    Good post. Like this one. Nicely written.

  6. Highly appreciate the comments everyone. I thought the literary jocks over at storyfix would like it.

    And for the record, I don’t mean to imply that these rules must be followed 100% of the time. There are always exceptions. Save for semicolons of course. Semicolons are evil in every context. They are what I like to call an unnecessary evil.

  7. It’s mid-afternoon here and I was just about to fall asleep. What a perfect way to wake up – laughing. Thanks so much for this fun post (exclamation point)! 🙂

  8. Hilarious! Many thanks, Chris.

  9. Thanks to Larry and Chris for this post. I’ve really learned a lot.

  10. manekochan

    You just made 50 people look up “merism”.

  11. Thud…the sound of body hitting floor with exclamation points!!
    Gasp…the noise that escapes when said body hits floor, with exclamation points!!
    Please…the words that escape said mouth when said body hits floor, with exclamation points!!
    More…the sound of…you get the general drift…with exclamation points!!

  12. Pingback: Happy Endings Blog – jeannieruesch.com » Blog Archive » Drop That Bad Habit like…well, a Bad Habit.

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