Poets in Prose

“Always be a poet, even in prose.” ~ Charles Baudelaire

Orwell’s List

Nearly every writer has a set of rules, personal or otherwise, they write by. While I can’t say I’ve really loved any of Orwell’s books, this list resonates with me.

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

-George Orwell

Here’s to an end of barbaric writing. 🙂

A glint on broken glass.

Way, waaaaaay back in the day, I was an English major.  Not just any English major, though.  A Creative Writing English major.  I loved poetry.  And I learned to write it . . . not bad, either.  Stories intimidated me, and everything I turned out along those lines were . . . ahem . . . bad. Trite. Simplistic. Shallow.  I just didn’t have the life experience to make a good story.  So, I loved painting images with poetry.

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining;

show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

~Anton Checkhov

Since those days in the JKHB (Jesse Knight Humanities Building, for the uninitiated), I slid into editing/writing coaching/proofreading.  I’ve helped floormates turn C papers into A papers. I’ve typed, formatted and submitted for private publishing a collection of poetry for an employer (it was a family history thing–a collection of his grandmother’s poems).  I’ve spent countless (and I do mean countless) hours writing in online discussions, informal teaching, and emails. I eventually slid into actual paid editing/proofreading work.  (Not a lot . . . there’s not much time for that kind of work when you’ve got a young horde to care for.)

During that stretch, I started reading.  I’ve always read . . . sometime more, sometimes less.  But about July of 2012, I began devouring books.  I’ve scoured the Kindle store and iBooks for inexpensive novels, and sometimes I get a great one.  More often I’ve found books with really great stories, but execution leaves something (or LOTS of somethings) to be desired.  Some authors have responded well to offers of help.  Some haven’t responded at all.  But through it all, I’ve wanted to put down some of the things I’ve learned about writing in a format that’s widely accessible.  One I won’t lose on my desk.  Yes, it happens.  And no, I’m not going to post a photo.

I want to blog often . . . and often, these posts will be very, very short.  Many of these writing tidbits don’t take a lot of discussion–it’s the execution that gets sticky and long.  Sometimes with a quotation, sometimes not.  Sometimes with a photo or artwork, but mostly not.  Whatever this ends up being, I’m starting.

Let’s see where this goes . . .