Tuesday, November 15, 2016

How to improve writing (no. 69)

[Mark Trail , November 15, 2016.]

Two things to consider. One is the importance of choosing the right word: Mark means to say impending . Garner’s Modern English Usage explains the distinction: “What is pending is awaiting an outcome”; “what is impending is imminent (in the literal sense of the word, ‘hanging over one’s head’) and harmful.” Volcanic eruptions are always harmful.

The second thing to consider: writing that represents speech should resemble speech. (And here I remember the English teacher who took off points when my daughter used contractions in a story’s dialogue.) Writing that represents the speech of someone fleeing an erupting volcano should exhibit greater terseness, greater urgency. A possible revision:

[Mark Trail revised.]

Or better yet: just keep your mouth shut and run, Mark, as Abbey Powell is doing. Run, Mark, run.

Related reading
All OCA “How to improve writing” posts : “How to improve writing” and Mark Trail posts : Mark Trail posts (Pinboard)

Please imagine the links in the form of a Venn diagram.

[I wrote a note to the teacher about the contractions but, as you might guess, I got nowhere. This post is no. 69 in a series, “How to improve writing,” dedicated to improving stray bits of public prose.]

comments: 1

Fresca said...

Boy, Mark Trail has strong lungs, to be able to shout long sentences while he's running.
Imagine him at Pompeii...