Really Bad Writing

By Bhalachandra Sahaj

Hi everyone!

quotes from tom waitsIn this blog, I (as well as other writers) have been writing mostly about how important it is to be a decent writer, how to write better, what is good writing, and so on. But, as I figured out a long time ago, people do not necessarily study well from positive examples. On the contrary, the way you should not do something is often more inspiring in terms of making people want to improve and develop.

Below are sample excerpts from what I think is a really bad writing. These excerpts are collected from different stories, either written by me (sometimes, when you edit, you find monsters), or by other authors. I won’t disclose their names though. Read the following samples, guess what’s wrong with them, and never write like this.

1. Sunday was a marvelous, uplifting day, perfect for our usual slow and cozy strolls around the picturesque autumn park. It was late glorious October outside, and the whole town was covered with yellow, red, brown, and crimson crispy leaves. The blue sky with fluffy, curly white clouds in it looked light-minded, as if all the gruesome and sad miseries of unhappy people living under it were none of its business but its own. I put on my beige warm sweater of large viscous, pushed an old ragged door of my tiny apartment, and went outside and went outside, oh, went outside.

I hope you noticed the enormous quantity of adjectives and epithets, and the grammatical errors. Don’t repeat these mistakes.

2. Whenever I was feeling depressed, sad, or just out of place, I would pack my things into a small backpack, write a couple of short letters to my friends—just to prevent them worrying about my whereabouts—and set off travelling around the state; it really did not matter for me where to go—in youth, I was fascinated with the aesthetics and nomadic romance of the beat generation, so usually I would buy a ticket on a bus (Greyhound Express, just like Jack Kerouac would like it, baby) driving to nowhere, sit, drink from my canteen, and watch the endless miles of road pass by me outside of the window.

I almost fell asleep while I tried to read to the end of this super-long sentence. And this is not even the longest sentence I’ve encountered.

3. She looked as if she was struck by lightning: her eyes going to fall out of orbits, her mouth wide open, as if she was trying to swallow a train, her skin deadly pale. To me, seeing her in such a condition was heartbreaking, like eggs being cracked upon a stone.

Metaphors and comparisons can be okay if you use them once every few pages. But back to back, they can be annoying—especially poorly-used metaphors.

4. Emotional detachment between us during manifested harmony in relationships was causing a cognitive dissonance within me; my mind was wandering in Kafkian labyrinths of doubt, guilt, and sorrow, while my mouth almost subconsciously produced sparkling words that people usually associate with love.

Don’t try to sound smart. It destroys the magic of your text. If your reader has no idea about Kafkian labyrinths, or cognitive dissonance, your effort will be in vain.

5. Electric compulsion of misery flowed through the night megalopolis, filling the veins of pragmatic reality with juices. Magnetic Adam of the new epoch, the innocent function of digital satori, who were you in this entropy?

WHAT?! This is too avant-garde, and in this case, it’s not a compliment.

Stay updated for more!


Comment/Ask an Expert

You do not have permission to submit a question


Register | Lost your password?