Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Elements of Writing Style

Some have asked me: "Whatever: how do you write?" I answer: "Poorly." Actually to date, no one has asked me this question. That, however, is no reason to not create a pointless blog entry about this very topic. First of all, I set out with the goal of creating crap. Many people say that this shows in how I write. Even if I have not asked them first. At any rate, when I start from this point, I have a much easier time actually producing something. Long ago, in a previous life, I wanted to be a writer. Like many people who want to write, I didn't. Instead I would pace, or watch TV, or do anything that did not involve actually writing. The reason for this was that I wanted everything to be perfect, because it mattered to me. When I start with a silly topic, however, the emotional investment is much smaller. Hence I write about StarWars and other such things. The second important thing is make sure the check clears before taking on a project. Actually that applies to other things, but could apply to writing as well. The second important thing (honest) is that I try and write something every day. Even if I only write one lousy sentence, it keeps the rhythm going. One of my favorite authors, Terry Pratchett, pointed out that, if you don't write any thing, then it is much harder to edit. I also noted that Stephen King and Mr. Pratchett come from journalistic backgrounds where writing equals food. Sometimes it seems that these sorts of people take a somewhat callous view towards their work, but I think, on the whole, that what they say makes a lot of sense. As yet another writer, Theodore Sturgeon said, "90% of everything is crap." I personally am aiming for closer to 95% but the principal is the same. If I churn out 19 pages of crap, then that means I get to the one page that is actually good. Or at least that's the theory. The third important thing is to write something that I feel passionate about. Or at least that I think would be fun. That way, it seems much easier to churn out the stuff once I get my second wind. I know that this is in direct contrast to my first point, but hey, this is a blog entry. The final and most important point is to use a spell checker. One of my teachers said that my spelling was disquieting and that he thought it would continue to "haunt me." Well, in your face punk! Erm…sorry. What I was trying to say was that Word does a much better job than I ever will when it comes to spelling. It even points out grammar problems correctly, at least some of the time. Of course, spelling checkers have their own limitations:
Eye have a spelling checker. It came with my pea sea. It plane lee marks four my revue Miss steaks aye can knot sea.
So to recap: • I don't take my writing seriously. • I try to write every day. • I try to write about something I enjoy or feel strongly about. • I use a spelling checker. • I avoid gnomes.

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