Are You Kidding Me?!

Are You Kidding Me?!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Practicing Your Craft with Terrible Writing

Ever see a movie in which someone dances really badly? You think to yourself, “Geez, that girl has got to know how to dance well to dance that badly.”

Author Allison Hawn had a prompt on her blog challenging us to write a terrible opening line. I tried. (That line up there ^ is not it.) Here it is: 

The waiting room smelled like cheap air freshener, fake rose and sickly sweet vanilla, mixed with the lingering scent of hopelessness as Tiffany and Pierce sat separated by loathing and distrust on a blue, faded couch.

Writing that crud was fun. But here’s what I was thinking as I typed my trashy first line: “Wow. This is difficult.” Or something along those G-rated lines. It’s like purposely putting your shoes on the wrong feet, or combining hummus, chocolate syrup, and lima beans for lunch.

Being mindful of crafting something horrible is good for you and your writing.

You’re breaking rules. Whether those rules are the writing world’s or your own isn't the point. You’re intentionally typing things that make you cringe. And not in a good way. You are consciously paying attention to what it is that you consider “bad”—flowery description, flat dialogue, useless filler, my blog—so you can avoid these things the next time you sit down to write your fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.

Whatever “bad writing” means to you, do it. Write some. It’s not as easy as you think.

Most of us have practiced active voice, realistic dialogue, showing not telling. But how many of us have practiced this? Here's my motivational, inspirational thought to get you typing terrible prose...

The journey of a thousand stories begins with one word.