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ARTICLES ON WRITING


TITLE: The Story That Wouldn't Be
By Janice Cartwright
10/05/06
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Something to lighten the serious business of writing the great American novel. For anyone who is dependent on good old MSW.
Last night I was inspired with a great idea for a story. Awesome in fact. I raced to my computer frothing to pin it down before it got away. Boy was it going to be funny.

Not good. Too many gets and gots and that first sentence couldnít grab a winning lottery ticket if it was offered for free. Besides, I'll need funny further down.

Last night a brilliant flash of insight for a story came to me. I raced to my computer to set it down before it got away. Boy was it going to be a scream.

Not much better, and you lost a great adjective, frothing, in the process. Or is frothing an adverb in this case? Oops, a fragment in the first paragraph; fragments are no-noes. But Max Lucado uses fragments all the time.

Make a note to add Lucado to the spelling and grammar list. And since when are you Lucado? Does Lucado have a long a or a short a? No, but. . Was that a quotation? I heard thoughts are sometimes supposed to be placed under quotation marks. No, it was just a thought thought.

Now why is there a red line under one thought? Because you used it twice consecutively silly. Was thatÖ now why is that sentence underlined in green? There is not a thing wrong with that sentence; Microsoft Word is an idiot sometimes.

Well, you know computers only know what the programmer programs into them, so who is the idiot around here anyway? I didnít program the thing, the programmers did! Thatís because you couldnít program your way out of a wet paper bag.

Uh-oh, clichť. You know how editors hate cliche! Green line. Another fragment. And another. Another. And. Ha-ha-ha this is funny. Now why wasnít and greenlined? If ever I saw a fragment "and" all by itself capitalized with a period behind it certainly is. Is is a dangling verb here?

Last night I was struck by lightening in the form of a brilliant flash of insight for a story. I could hardly wait toÖ Now itís too wordy and awkward. Awkward. Now thereís a strange word for you, reminds me of some kind of bird. The spelling seems wrong too but thereís no red line. But still, awkward looks Ė awfully awkward. Awkward. Awkward. Awkward. Awkward. The more I say awkward the awkwarder it sounds.

Now whatís wrong with awkwarder Mr. Arrogant Microsoft Word? If you think awkwarder isnít a good word lets see you come up with something better. Oh, so youíre saying awkwarder isnít a word at all? Well, weíll just see what Merriam Webster has to say about that.

Okay, so I was wrong, for the second time in my life.

Last night I was struck by a brilliant flash of insight for a story. Now what is that blooming green line doing there again? "Last night a brilliant struck me flash of insight for a story?" You have got to be kidding! Ok, Iím just going to leave it this way and YOU can get the editorís rejection slip.

Is get getting to be a weasel word with me? No, I think now is more my weasel word than get ever thought about being. Besides a weasel word is like pregnant - it canít be getting, it just is or it isnít.

Last night I had a brilliant flash of insight for a story. I raced to the computer frothing to put this rare stroke of genius into words before it escaped me. My chair had been moved but I didnít take time to go and find it; I was far too worked up. Instead I remained standing (bent over like a pretzel, actually), while I waited all too impatiently for the monitor to light up.

All too impatiently Ö didnít that lady at writers group say publishers detest words ending in ly? And should I say monitor, or should it be screen, or maybe PC with boot? And waited, impatient for the computer to boot up so I could begin typing my story.

In the meantime I thought about how I might frame some of my thoughts. How about this, "pour my hitherto fluid ideas into the concrete mold of words that others might partake of my profundity." What a beautiful phrase: the concrete mold of words. But did my tone change? No, couldnít have, you just started.

Besides, the tone is, well what is my tone anyway? But that first sentence still bothers me. Had a brilliant flash of insight sounds like someone giving birth. Had a. Well writing a story is sort of like having a baby - only worse, much worse.

Oh gosh, too many m dashes on one page. And speaking of such things as birth, have I with this gender related phrase targeted a mothers-only audience? If so that is way too narrow a crowd and its got to go.

(Narrow? Pregnant? Got to go?)

And also what about conflict? Yes, you know youíre supposed to have all this stuff lined up before you even start. Oh, for goodness sake, Ďand also what about conflictí is fine. Conflict. Conflict. You want conflict? Well, Iíll give you conflict. Conflict is trying to cram a brilliant flash of insight into tiny little marks on paper while being steadily hassled by the spelling and grammar police.

I wonder though is it bad form to call it paper when itís actually a computer screen? And little marks? Little is such a worn-out word. Also such is superfluous. Tiny is too. Together they are just clueless. Midget marks then. Doesnít fit. Lilliputian marks? Too grandiose. Now thatís an oxymoron phrase for you. Lilliputian is grandiose? How about wee marks?

No that would make it Irish genre? Green line again. Red lines, green lines. This dashed cheeky computer is going to get some conflict if it doesnít stop bugging me. And come to think of it those dream bashers posing as editors are going to get some too from yours truly if they donít shape up. Dream bashers. Now should that have had a hyphen? Need a hyphen?

Last nightÖ
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