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3/11/11

Writing: Fact and Fiction

One thing I've learned...

Taking a class in fiction wasn't a mistake for me but it has taught me that writing fiction is probably a mistake for me. The reasons why I've reached that conclusion have already been documented in previous blog posts. Writing nonfiction is much more appropriate for me, but one thing I've learned for certain in writing workshop, is that I've gotten lazy and need to tighten up my style. I've learned it in two ways. Proofreading my own material and also receiving criticism for errors in style. Another way I've learned is reading other people's material, although they have a college education and their fiction is pretty good, their style, grammar and punctuation is sometimes appalling. I can say without too much arrogance, that although I make errors, they are not on the level I see too often with some other writers.

It would be trite to go on about the failings of our educational system that people graduate from high school and college without knowing how to structure a sentence, paragraph and a piece of writing with a beginning, middle and end. This we already know. It's disappointing but I have been seeing it at work, online and in email, at school and in publications written by professional authors for enough years now that I am no longer surprised. What I've been doing recently, which has now been reinforced by a blog post written by Mike on rock and confusion, is brushing up on my own style or rather lack of it at times. I'm reviewing simple grammar books as a reminder to avoid common pitfalls we all land in. Also I'm going through different style manuals and the MLA Handbook. It's not so easy to be critical of others when you look at the correct etiquette of writing and realize where you fall short yourself.