Sunday, January 18, 2009

What's the Matter, Bunky? Don't You Do ... Honorificabilitudinitatibus? The Doctor is In. The Orphan is Sick. Elvis is French.

The Elements of No Style: What are the hallmarks of a bad newspaper column?

I continue to gather string from readers here about what they consider the hallmarks of a bad newspaper column -- not a series of columns, but one, single column.

A concurrent conversation is taking place on my Facebook page, where parallel comment threads have started breaking out since I began posting links to my work. (Friend me if you want to join in those scrums).

Digested from that thread:

* Excessive sentiment
* Self importance
* Poor or non-existent research
* Sesquipedalianism
* One-sentence paragraphs.
* Ellipses
* The use of nicknames and childish insults.

My plan is to generate a set of the most common complaints, ask readers to click vote on what they like least, then attempt to create the world's worst column. (Poll-releated gimmicks? Did someone say that?)

-- from Eric Zorn in the Chicago Tribune

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