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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Emulating Bad Models

If you take as your model a kind of standard academic prose, without really considering whether you, personally, really want to write like that or not, you will end up imitating the worst aspects of the prose in your own field. That is why it is important to emulate particular models of good prose, rather than unconsciously writing in a style that you assume will be an acceptable default.

If you write a kind of generic acadamese, you will still be able to get published, You will fit in, more or less. But you will never take that next step. You won't receive compliments on your elegant writing. Nobody else will take your writing as a model for their own.

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What is generic academese? Lots of passive voice and long words. Inelegant signposting. Vagueness. A "written" quality far from any language used in real speech. A lack of personality or of a distinctive "voice." Numerous quotes from other scholars who also write indifferently.

1 comment:

Andrew Shields said...

"You will never be able to take that next step": you will never really be a writer.