Bad Writing Makes Good Headlines

By Jason Boog Comment

salon-books_bigger.jpgOur literary remix contest made a cameo appearance in a article by Laura Miller, our experiment landing squarely in the middle of a debate about the usefulness of reading bad writing.

Check it out: “This confirms the secret weapon of many writing workshops. Students often don’t get much helpful advice from critiques of their own work, as more than one teacher has confided to me. Instead, they learn the most from identifying the mistakes made by others. Sadly, if bad writers have one thing in common it’s that they’re all firmly convinced that they’re good writers. Really good writers.”

What do you think? This editor believes that we can learn a lot from the tortured sentences of other writers. Besides sponsoring the literary remix contest, we’ve celebrated a bad writing documentary and bad writing contests. After the jump, read some Alger excerpts.

Here are our favorite examples of bad writing from Alger’s novel, Joe’s Luck

“Joe felt that his confidence in human nature was badly shaken. Injustice and fraud seemed to have the best of it in this world … It is a hard awakening for a trusting boy, when he first comes in contact with selfishness and corruption.”

“‘I wish my bed was large enough to hold two; you should be welcome to a share of it. But they don’t provide very wide bedsteads in this country.’ Mr. Folsom’s bed was about eighteen inches wide.”

“They went up-stairs, until Joe wondered when they were going to stop. Finally the boy paused at the top floor, for the very good reason that he could get no higher, and opened the door of 161.”