Blog: How to Write Badly Well
How To Write Badly Well
is a blog of writing snippets written by Joel Stickley. Each snippet is an attempt to exemplify
some particular form of Bad Writing
Tropes used or criticized include:
- Accidental Innuendo: "Blunder into double entendres."
- Author Avatar: "Write thinly-veiled, self-aggrandising autobiographical fiction."
- Author Tract: "Subtly weave your own opinions into the narrative."
- Author Vocabulary Calendar: "If you find a phrase you like, keep repeating it."
- Beauty Equals Goodness: "Equate physical beauty with virtue"
- Because Destiny Says So: "Use 'fate' as a plot device."
- Big Red Devil: Hitler-1 in the "Take the mad scientist archetype to its logical conclusion" video, is described as being "20-foot tall, wreathed in flame with wings made of Midnight, with a funny little moustache because some things never change."
- Beige Prose: "Narrate every scene in a matter-of-fact tone, no matter how exciting."
- Black Comedy: "Make light of tragedy."
- Butt Monkey: Exaggerated in "Choose one character to bully"
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": "Replace real-life items with fictional alternatives."
- Character Derailment: "Suddenly change characters' motivations."
- The Chris Carter Effect: "Refuse to resolve mysteries."
- Cliché Storm: "Treat genre as a replacement for ideas."
- Coitus Ensues: "If in doubt, initiate sex"
- Contemplate Our Navels: "Take yourself far too seriously."
- Creator Breakdown: "Write as therapy."
- Critical Research Failure: "Don't get bogged down in research."
- Department of Redundancy Department: "Include unneccessary linguistic redundancies of language."
- Designated Hero: "Emphasise your hero's good qualities"
- Designated Villain: "Emphasise your villian's bad qualities"
- Deus ex Machina: "Write yourself out of a corner"
- Empathic Environment: "Begin the novel with your protagonist getting out of bed and seeing that it is raining outside, which perfectly mirrors his life."
- Featureless Plane of Disembodied Dialogue: "Do not contextualise dialogue"
- Filler Strip: "Rely on unsolicited submissions."
- First-Person Peripheral Narrator: "Choose a narrator who is peripheral to the story."
- Follow the Leader: "Wear your influences on your sleeve."
- Foregone Conclusion: "Risk the narrator's life"
- Funetik Aksent: "Give your characters distinctive idioms."
- Generic Doomsday Villain: "Make your villain genuinely evil."
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: "Censor your characters."
- Historical-Domain Character: "Cater for cameos."
- Info Dump: "Explain everything."
- Law of Conservation of Detail: Inverted in "Describe the Wrong Things.
- Long Title: "Cram as much information and detail into the title as you can, even if this means sacrificing the readability of said title and somewhat stealing the thunder of the main body of the work itself, which is left only really being able to reiterate what has already been said in the title, which was itself clumsy and repetitious."
- Mad Scientist: The "Designated Villain" example is one trying to cure cancer, specifically in order to render cancer charities and certain doctors out of a job, and stop cancer patient survival biographies/memoirs/whathaveyou from being written.
- Meaningful Name: "Give your characters evocative names."
- Meaningless Meaningful Words: "Select words for their impressiveness rather than their relevance."
- Mills and Boon Prose: "Replace concrete nouns with abstract ones."
- Mixed Metaphor: "Mix metaphors."
- Mockumentary: History of Grob
"...Iím trying my hand at something new. For the most part, this blog has focused on the bad writing of fiction Ė implausible plot twists, awkward turns of phrase, unconvincing characters and so on. Meanwhile, non-fiction has got off all too lightly. Itís time to do something about that."
- Most Writers Are Writers: "Write to prove a point."
- Narm: "Fail to see the funny side."
- Narrating the Obvious: "When writing radio drama, use dialogue to set the scene."
- Not Using the Z Word: "Beat around the bush"
- Obviously Evil: a video on Mad Scientists purports that, perhaps Hitler's been killed so many times that the "psychotic failed artist" Hitler was only a "pale shadow" of a Big Red Devil with a toothbrush moustache, and he'll eventually degenerate to a harmless old man painting shitty watercolors.
- Only the Author Can Save Them Now: "Write yourself into a corner"
- Parody: The
Homage WeekNon-Contiguous Homage Fortnight, which includes stylistic parodies of:
- Painful Rhyme: "Change sentence structure for the benefit of your rhyme scheme."
- Plot Detour: "Delay the ending."
- Plot-Induced Stupidity: "Sacrifice motivation for the sake of plotting."
- Politically Correct History: "Allow your characters to be centuries ahead of their time"
- Ripped from the Headlines: "Be topical"
- Rouge Angles of Satin / Malaproper:
- Said Bookism:
- Schedule Slip: "Miss deadlines."
- Shaped Like Itself: "Make your similes very accurate"
- She Is the King: King Suzan I "The Woman" of Grob
- Shocking Swerve: "End with a twist no reader could have reasonably foreseen"
- Shown Their Work: "Include passing references to major historical events."
- Sophisticated as Hell: "Don't be put off by wildly conflicting registers of language."
- Take That, Audience!: "Alienate your existing readership"
- That Makes Me Feel Angry:" Let your characters explain themselves."
- Too Dumb to Live: "Make your characters incapable of learning anything."
- Trapped by Mountain Lions: "Create subplots which bear no relation to the main story."
- Viewers Are Morons: "Underestimate your audience"
- Villain Decay: In-Universe. Due to Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act and Timey-Wimey Ball, Hitler Prime is a Big Red Devil; History-books Hitler is him after 300 assassinations. Hitler-301 is a harmless old man painting watercolors on a riverbank in Austria, and there's no Hitler-302 because the timeline's so warped by then his parents decide to get a home office instead of children.
- Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: "Use semicolons because you think they look good, not because you know how they work"
- Who Is This Guy Again?: "Refuse to give names to characters"
- You Fail Religious Studies Forever: Played for Laughs with Grobian Orthodox Heresy.
- Zeerust: "Write in a way which will not age well."