Tuesday, March 10, 2015

How to improve writing (no. 55)


[Mark Trail, March 10, 2015.]

It is well known that Mark Trail recycles old storylines and old art. (An intrepid reader known as The Foo Bird traced the just-ended moose story and its art to 1952.) Today’s strip shows a different kind of recycling: repurposing the previous day’s tiny portion of narrative.

Yesterday: “Not far from Lost Forest, the instincts of a young beaver tell him that it’s time to leave the colony in order to go out and start a family of his own.”

Today: “Now, however, his instincts are telling him that it is time to leave the safety of his lodge and venture out into the wild to find a mate and start a colony of his own.”

I can imagine tomorrow’s strip: “But now the young beaver knows that the time has come for him to leave the comforts of childhood and begin a family, not to mention a colony, of his very own.”

It’s possible to improve today’s strip, like yesterday’s, with thoughtful editing:


[Mark Trail revised, March 10, 2015.]

But that’s too thoughtful, really. Better:


[Mark Trail revised, March 10, 2015. William Strunk Jr.: “Omit needless words! Omit needless words! Omit needless words!”]

Where will this storyline go? I suspect something along these lines: Beaver homestead frustrates local developer’s plans for river. Developer makes ready with traps — or dynamite. Mark Trail to the rescue. It’s been done, more or less, in an episode of Lassie.

Related reading
All OCA How to improve writing posts (Pinboard)

[This post is no. 55 in a series, “How to improve writing,” dedicated to improving stray bits of public prose.]

comments: 6

Frex said...

Ohmy god, this is so fun!
Taking a few liberties, I took a turn myself:

"Lost in the Forest, his young beaver instinct tells him to lodge a safety complaint, leave his family, find a wild mate, and venture fund a startup of his own.”

[What happens to a capitalist on a Spirit Quest...?]

Frex said...

P.S. That was Fresca (Frex), as you know, right? Sorry, sometimes I'm too lazy to sign in and out of different online accounts.

Michael Leddy said...

Ha! Yes, I know that’s you.

Diane Schirf said...

How can he venture (out) into the wild? Isn't he in the wild? Or is this one of those entitled young suburban beavers with helicopter parents?

Michael Leddy said...

That’s a good question. I guess anything beyond “home” could be considered the wild. I think reading Mark Trail is rendering me unable to think about nature clearly.

Diane Schirf said...

Funny, when I was a kid I used to love reading Mark Trail for the tidbits of info on nature.