Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Being in Print Doesn’t Make It Good Writing

As we grow in our writing skill, we also grow in noticing weakness and errors in print. Not always wrong as much as careless is the author using the same word twice in the same paragraph or (worse) in the same sentence.

Mary Higgins Clark’s The Melody Lingers On has this awkward sentence on page 91: “At least you have to give him credit for being a thoughtful son, Jon thought.”

Two things hit me. First, the cliché you have to give him credit, but worse, she uses thoughtful, and three words later in the same sentence, she uses thought.

I haven’t liked reading The Message because of the abundance of clichés, but I determined to read it from Genesis through Revelation. This morning I hit this sentence in 1 Thessalonians 1: “Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were to take great joy from the Holy Spirit—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble.” I can overlook the triple use of joy because it flows. But he wrote take and then taking. It would have been easy for him to substitute receive, derive, or experience, which would have made the prose smoother and not changed the meaning.

What weaknesses have you noticed in print?

1 comment:

  1. Since last week, I have been reading this blog from the beginning, starting with the first post dated January 4, 2010. I've written pages and pages of notes, and I'm only up to April 3, 2012.

    It has humbled me to realize how much I did not know and how much of what I "knew" isn't so. As an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction for the past fifty-plus years, I thought I knew the difference between good writing and bad writing. It helps my bruised ego to see that even best-selling authors get it wrong sometimes.

    Thank you, Mr. Murphey, for your great generosity.


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