Author Topic: Short writing exercise -- Make a well-written sample weak  (Read 378 times)

Offline Munley

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 591
  • Karma: 148
  • Nova Scotia, Canada
Short writing exercise -- Make a well-written sample weak
« on: April 25, 2021, 02:32:52 PM »
This is a sort of reverse-editing exercise. The goal is to make the writing worse.

Choose 2 or 3 sentences from a published work that you like, a sample you think is well-written and effective in creating character, atmosphere, suspense, or something else that impressed you.

Here are 2 consecutive sentences from The Hatter’s Castle, by Scottish writer, A.J. Cronin.
In this scene, a passenger train has just gotten onto a rickety bridge during a terrible storm.

Original:
The violence of the gale was now unbounded.
The wind hurled the rain against the sides of the train with the noise of a thousand anvils,
and the wet snow came slobbering upon the window panes, blotting out all vision.


Weaker version:
The gale got really strong.
The wind sent the rain against the sides of the train so hard, it got really loud,
and the wet snow slid down the window panes, making it really hard to see outside
« Last Edit: April 25, 2021, 02:38:57 PM by Munley »

Offline Viddiest

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 177
  • Karma: 24
Re: Short writing exercise -- Make a well-written sample weak
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2021, 07:42:01 PM »
Original- by Richard Ford in The Sportswriter

Plenty of times I've seen writers, famous novelists and essayists, even poets, with names you'd recognize and whose work I admire, drift through these offices on one high-priced assignment or other. I have seen the anxious, weaselly lonely looks in their eyes, seen them sit at the desk we give them in a far cubicle, put their feet up and start at once to talk in loud, jokey, bluff, inviting voices, trying like everything to feel like members of the staff, holding court, acting like good guys, ready to give advice or offer opinions on anything anybody wants to know. In other words, having the time of their lives.

And who could blame them? Writers — all writers — need to belong. Only for real writers, unfortunately, their club is a club with just one member.

Weaker version

I have seen many writers, famous novelists, essayists and even poets whose work I admire come in through this office while working on a high-price assignment. They looked anxious and lonely while they sat at their cubicles and putting their feet up, told jokes in loud voices, trying hard to fit in with other members of the staff. They acted like good guys and were ready to offer opinions. All writers seem to want to belong. Sadly, their club is a club with just one member.


Offline Johnny 5

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 159
  • Karma: 16
  • I live in the UK but aim to publish in the US.
Re: Short writing exercise -- Make a well-written sample weak
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2021, 01:39:15 AM »
Original: A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

The Remake: Two Cities: A Novel

Times were good and bad. People were smart and stupid. They believed and they also didn't. Times were bright and dark. People had hope and they also didn't. We had everything and we also didn't. We were going to go to Heaven and we were also going to go to Hell. So in other words, it was so very different from now, that vocal critics would always compare the two times to the extreme. 
« Last Edit: April 26, 2021, 03:29:41 AM by jonny_555 »
Find the blessing in your curse

Offline Munley

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 591
  • Karma: 148
  • Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: Short writing exercise -- Make a well-written sample weak
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2021, 06:21:55 PM »
Nice job, both of you, watering down strong writing. Interesting to note what you changed to weaken the original.

Here's another good writing passage I tampered with:

From The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Original:
I felt dreadfully inadequate. . . .

The one thing I was good at was winning scholarships and prizes, and that era was coming to an end.
 
I felt like a racehorse in a world without race-tracks or a champion college footballer suddenly confronted by Wall Street and a business suit, his days of glory shrunk to a little gold cup on his mantel with a date engraved on it like the date on a tombstone.
------------------
Weaker version:
I felt inadequate. . . .

Sure, I was pretty good at academic stuff, but I was close to graduating.

I felt like a racehorse with no opportunity to run a race, or a champion college footballer in an office job, his days of glory just a memory.