Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bad Writing

by Kiirsi Hellewell

Everyone has their own opinions of what constitutes bad writing.  We get an overload of hearing about too much“adverbing,” the good old “said” debate, and more. 

I’m very opinionated and as soon as I finish a book—or sometimes all the way through it—I  write critiques in my mind.  I’m constantly talking to myself up there, holding conversations about what I liked or didn’t like, and why.  (Unless it’s a cracking good story—then I’m so caught up in it that all I know is how good it was!)

I admit, I’ve read books that weren’t written very well in a literary sense, but because the story was so good and the characters so real, I loved it anyway. 

But I’ve also had plenty of bad experiences, too, with books.  Some I couldn’t even finish (*cough, Eragon cough*) because the writing was so deplorable and pulled me so far out of the story that I wanted to run and not look back.

Here’s an article I came across last week about one popular, rich, and famous author who’s not very popular with the critics.  I laughed pretty hard at some of these examples.  Enjoy these excerpts, and may your writing not be plagued with badness!

Deception Point, chapter 8: Overhanging her precarious body was a jaundiced face whose skin resembled a sheet of parchment paper punctured by two emotionless eyes.

It’s not clear what Brown thinks ‘precarious’ means here.

The Da Vinci Code, chapter 4: A voice spoke, chillingly close. "Do not move." On his hands and knees, the curator froze, turning his head slowly. Only fifteen feet away, outside the sealed gate, the mountainous silhouette of his attacker stared through the iron bars. He was broad and tall, with ghost-pale skin and thinning white hair. His irises were pink with dark red pupils.

A silhouette with white hair and pink irises stood chillingly close but 15 feet away. What’s wrong with this picture?

The Da Vinci Code, chapter 5: Only those with a keen eye would notice his 14-karat gold bishop's ring with purple amethyst, large diamonds, and hand-tooled mitre-crozier appliqué.

A keen eye indeed.

The Da Vinci Code, chapter 4: Five months ago, the kaleidoscope of power had been shaken, and Aringarosa was still reeling from the blow.

Did they hit him with the kaleidoscope?

The Da Vinci Code, chapter 4: He could taste the familiar tang of museum air - an arid, deionized essence that carried a faint hint of carbon - the product of industrial, coal-filter dehumidifiers that ran around the clock to counteract the corrosive carbon dioxide exhaled by visitors.

Ah, that familiar tang of deionised essence.

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