The good is yesterday’s visit to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden—the usual lush flora plus the current exhibit of metal sculptures based on origami. I saw only part of the sculptures but they are stunning! The heat drove me away before I tour the entire circuit, so a return visit is in the offing. I wanted to share, but couldn’t think of a way to make the excursion particularly relevant to writers and/or readers.
Therefore I decided to alternate the good with the bad—some nuggets of really egregious writing, from mixed metaphors to clichés—cited in this essay in the June 18th issue of The New Yorker.
N.B.: The entire article is 3.3 pages plus a full-page illustration. Clearly, I’ve chosen only some of the worst writing quoted from The President Is Missing (Bill Clinton and James Patterson) to suit my purposes. The article contains much that is complementary, informative, and entertaining, and I highly recommend reading the entire thing!
“She had to bite her tongue and accept her place as second fiddle.”
“…the sorrowful, deer-in-the-headlights look is long gone. The gloves have come off.”
“Along the way, little animals bounce out of her path.”
“Augie looks at me like a lost puppy, in a foreign place with no partner anymore, nothing to call his own but his smartphone.”
“Adrenaline crashes through my body.”
“Volkov’s eyebrows flare a bit.”
“Augie lets out a noise that sounds like laughter.”
“…her face once again becomes a poker-face wall.”
“Casey falls to a crouch, gripping her hair.”
“…eyes in a focused squint…”
“a sweeping nod”
“shakes his head, hiccups a bitter chuckle.”
“My head on a swivel, I focus on Devin.”
“I break into a jog, something close to a full sprint”
“a bunch of scrambled jumble”
Bottom line: Even highly educated and highly successful writers sometimes try too hard to make their writing compelling and vivid. Beware!
One thoughtful comment
That NYer review was by Anthony Lane. He is uniformly on-point and hilarious at the same time. His movie reviews are always worth a read too!