Monday, February 11, 2013

61 Words

About a year ago, my name mysteriously found its way onto a subscription list for an upscale magazine. The magazine is named after a well-known East Coast town, which is also home to a prestigious Ivy League school.  Full of slick, colorful advertisements and interesting articles it caters to the well-heeled. However, to  demonstrate just how UN-well-heeled I am, Jimmy Choo's and Manolo Blahnik's are not a dream for me, they're a mirage! But I'm not here to write about shoes but about an article in their recent issue.

The article in question is about a 19th Century Renaissance man credited with creating much of the town's architectural character. The "hook" pulled me in but not because it was well-written. While there were several appropriately placed commas, I re-read the sentence two more times before I counted the words. Not once, but twice because the "hook" is a whopping  61 words!

To those unfamiliar with the term, "the hook," it is the first line, paragraph or page of a story and it draws the reader in and is essential to all good writing.

If the average sentence is 20-25 words long, there are enough words in this sentence to create at least three, maybe four, sentences!  While I don't want to disparage the magazine nor the article's author, it's hard to believe this sentence slipped past the editor.

Like the queen in Hamlet, you might think, I "doth protest too much" but good writing is hard and requires a lot of blood, sweat, tears and often, many, many rewrites.

As a writer myself, bad sentence structure, grammar and misspelled words have a tendency to jump out at me but if you're wondering about the rest of the article, it was well written.


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