Bad Writing

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

What is bad writing? I bet you can think of multiple examples right off the bat right?

In Star Wars Attack of the Clones, Anakin says, “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth “

What if I told you this wasn’t terrible writing but realistic awkward, cult raised, teen flirting? Would you disagree?

So what’s the line? Where’s the litmus test? Why am I using so many question marks? Seriously, this is getting irritating, like sand?

Okay, silliness aside, most people have no idea what bad writing is and love to use it as an argument.

“I don’t hate women, but Doctor Who’s writing just sucks this season.”

“I’m not racist, but Star Wars The Force Awakens is badly written.”

What these people mean is that the show isn’t the way they remember and that makes them unhappy.

It’s not actually about the writing.

There are four main types of bad writing and that’s how I judge a book or show’s writing:

1. Mechanics

Typos, sentence structure, and grammar are important. If they’re off for no reason, that’s bad writing.

Eg: Th woman starred up at his face, wondering what that beard hide.

2. Repetition

I struggle with this in my writing. Repeating things can be useful, but makes it feel like you’re over explaining or condescending to the audience

Eg: She looked into his eyes, wondering what secrets hid behind those eyes. The eyes were dark blue and seemed to see right through her. She’d describe the eyes as piercing.

3. Boobing / Privilege

When you write about something you’re not familiar with but don’t realize, you end up, at best, sounding like a male author poorly writing a woman, or at worst, tone deaf and racist.

Eg: She boobily boobed down the stairs with her boobs boobing. BOOBS

Eg: Her exotic light-chocolate skin marked her as one of the less educated mexican delegation. She’d probably never been to such an advanced city. He was certain she’d appreciate the taco truck outside the conference centre.

4. Inconsistent Story

Contradictions, temporal weirdness, odd twists, or ridiculous luck can all throw an audience out of a work. In tiny doses, it’s not too bad, but too much or too blatant and it’s just bad writing. (Shakespeare was terrible with time.)


People will talk to you about pacing, clichés, contrivances, too much or too little dialogue, starting too early or too late, etc. etc. etc.

It’s all bullshit. What they’re actually saying is they don’t like something about the work and instead of facing that, they’d rather just make a vague useless statement.

Unfortunately, it’s also really hard to argue with such a statement.

Did I miss anything? Do you disagree?

Later days,

Éric

Real Conspiracies

X-Files themed button. Now available for commission.
X-Files themed button.
Now available for commission.

On Tuesday I talked about Conspiracy Theories. Today lets discuss real ones. The real conspiracies fuel our natural want to see patterns and be special.

Most of the real life conspiracies are based on not wanting to change the way we do things or products of advertising.

Take Multivitamins for example. They’re not bad for you but they’re not important. This is multivitamins and vitamin boosts. This doesn’t mean Folic Acid for pregnancy, vitamin D for SAD, or Iron for Anemia is bad. When recommended by a doctor they’re great.

Or take bottled water. Many people think it’s better than tap water and the companies selling them certainly want you to think that, but on average they’re not.

These are just a few examples of “real” conspiracies. They are not controlled by a giant body, but by people who want to be rich. There’s no giant Water Bottle Industry conspiracy to make our tap water less safe. That’s caused by human greed, poor management, poor regulation, and stupidity.

How to Avoid Being Duped

There are little conspiracies all over. From wanting the last cookie, to wanting you to BUY OUR COFFEE everyone has an angle or something they want from someone else.

If you want to test if a conspiracy is real or not remember to ask the most important question: Why?

Why would they perpetrate this hoax? Why would they control the world? Why would they try to control humanity with the contrails from planes?

From there, do your research and find out how it could be true. Apply the David Robert Grimes Method. It states that a conspiracy is less likely to succeed, the more people who are involved. Find credible sources and think critically.

Beware Buzzwords

Buzzwords are by far the most dangerous form of conspiracy. They sound good but are vague and never tell the whole truth. They are dangerous if you believe them unconditionally.

Some of the best examples of dangerous buzzwords are found in health. Superfoods, Toxins, Cleanse and Natural are some extremely common buzzwords that literally mean nothing.

A superfood isn’t from Krypton, but something that has higher than normal vitamin content. That’s it. It’s not a cure for cancer, not a cure for the common cold, not a cure for damage. Just a food that’s good for you.

A toxin is “a poisonous substance and especially one that is produced by a living thing” So unless you are eating jellyfish, the chances that your food is filled with toxins is highly unlikely. Everything that goes into your body might have poisons in it, probably in minute amounts. Nature has a way for you to detox that isn’t only free, but easy. It’s called your LIVER.

Cleanses are a way to detox your body. As slang for “Stop eating unhealthily” it makes sense. Of course fake doctors and idiots have commercialised it into something that is dangerous. Let’s make something clear: You can’t eat unhealthily and then “cleanse” to make yourself healthy again. That’s not how our bodies work. These detox cleanse diets aren’t healthy. They are fads that stress your body more than they help. They are the emotionally crippled children of the weight loss fad diets. You don’t need to know the garcinia side effects. Eat healthy regularly and you’ll feel better. Don’t pretend you’re Bacchus and think eating only soup for a month will repair damage.

Natural is a word that has such a vague meaning that it could mean anything. Nightshade is completely natural, as is the box jellyfish, but eating them can hurt you. Using Natural as a word to mean safe is ignorant of how we live our lives and of science. I’ve seen Natural on everything from bacon to tomatoes. It literally means whatever the advertiser wants it to mean.

Conclusion

When you’re trying to figure out what’s real:

  • Think critically about what you do and why you do it.
  • If someone tells you you’re wrong, ask why.
  • Do some research before you believe what your crazy (insert relative) tells you about a miracle product.
  • Remember that we as a species are flawed.

For me I like to follow a few general rules:

  • Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
  • Occam’s Razor: The simplest answer is usually the right one.

And of course

 

What are your least favourite Real Conspiracies?

Later Days,

Éric

Conspiracies

Watching the American elections and the rise to power of certain candidates it’s easy to believe that there’s more going on than we see. Maybe a shadowy organization that’s pulling the strings? Evil lizard overlords? Big Pharma? Big Oil? Big Publishing? Landru?

There have been more conspiracy theories than I can name but most of them take Occam’s Razor and toss it out the window. (Insert unshaved conspiracy nut joke here)

I LOVE conspiracy theories, not because I think they’re real but because they are entertaining stories. If you truly think that one organization has guided the history and politics of humanity for the past three hundred years, you have way more faith in humanity than I do. The problem with most of these grand conspiracy theories is the belief that we as a species are capable of keeping secrets.

Take the Moon Landing Hoax; in most variations they faked the moon landing by using Hollywood tricks. We’re talking about an industry that has trouble keeping its movie trailers from leaking. The idea that the proof has so perfectly been destroyed is ludicrous.

Not that I could convince anyone who believes in it. They will misconstrue and misunderstand to the point of believing whatever they want. There are people who believe that the world is flat. Despite all the evidence.

Why are Conspiracy Theories so compelling?

I’m not going into the pathology of mental health and conspiracy theories. That’s a whole other discussion.

I think the answer is simply patterns. We, as humans, are obsessed with patterns. We find them in everything, even when they don’t exist. Seeing shapes in clouds or bathroom tiles seems far off from thinking we live on a planet that’s 5000 years old, flat, and ruled by a secret society of atheistic Lizard-Men but it’s not as far as you think.

Think of the restaurant you dislike the most (no not the one with poor social values) but the one you’ve been to 2-3 times and had bad food or bad service every time. We all have one and we all avoid that restaurant because we assume that they’re always that bad. (I mean terrible not just bad.) We assume that everyone else is wrong when they say the restaurant is ok. So who’s wrong? If the restaurant is still in business there’s a good chance we are.

At this point we have to either accept that our 2-3 experiences are only a miniscule number in a larger series. If the restaurant is open 7 days a week and sees an average of 50 customers a day that’s 18,200 customers per year. So our 3 experiences represent 0.0016% of visits that year.

Or we can assume that it was purposefully done to us. The owners of the restaurant don’t like us.

In the science-ish conclusion we aren’t special, we’re a miniscule example. In the Conspiracy, we’re not only special but persecuted. Naturally, we would prefer to believe we’re important.

 

What are your favourite Conspiracies?

Later Days,

Éric