Good words, bad sentence (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 23 May 2018 22:42

emember last week? I was sitting on the train, worried about the rain coming down and what I’d do when I ran out of train to hide in. And I thought (as I studied the puddles for raindrops, the cyclist’s gauge) about how this could be a good piece. Nobody sharing my rail car with me would know the tense drama unfolding. But once it becomes known (this fixation for drops as we worked progressively south), it adds something to the scene. Suddenly I’m not a guy on the train. I’m a guy on the train with a backstory.

Okay, so I thought it was pretty clever, pulling a writing lesson out watching raindrops licking at puddles. And then I wrote this…

I’m on the train, my nonplussed reflection reflects back at me against a leaden sky.

Really?

How did I miss using the same word twice? I was looking at my reflection doing what reflections do, i.e.reflect. So there I was, punching up the text so it would read really sharp and interesting. I probably liked that word so much that I focused my mind on it and described what I was looking at, not looking at the words together but as clever indivuduals.

I play the game Go, where you need to focus tactically but also look at the long game. And if there is a Go moment I’ll remember, it’s when I thought I was stalking my buddy Omar into a fix. I was so focused on my schemes that I didn’t give the board much more than a glance. Placed my evil move and went to lunch. Came back to find his move and four dead stones on the side of the board, my stones! While I’d stalked him, he’d stalked me and had reasoned that I’d get nailed before he would. So I blundered right into it, counting my unhatched chickens and all that.

So last week’s piece was a little like that. I was so focused on making each word right that I didn’t make each sentence right. So always keep that in mind.

And now I’ll let this sit for a few days and then look again – carefully – to make sure a piece about bad wording doesn’t contain… bad wording.

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