Sunday, May 8, 2011

Post-It Publishing/ AU

Pow!   In honor of Saturday's Free Comic Book Day, here is Post-It Publishing in an Alternative Universe (AU for you insiders).   Okay, I actually used this Friday in the here and now, but you'll understand the AU in a hot minute.

You've probably seen that e-mail forward that claims to contain horrific samples from high school student essays.   We writers know that some of those sentences were so bad, they just had to be composed by experts.   Here's a link to a article that includes some of the awesomely bad selections:

If you are too impatient to click the link, enjoy the following sampler:

She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes
just before it throws up.

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city
and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

The hailstones leaped from the pavement,
just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

After the 8th grade state writing assessment, we should be able try our hands at writing some of the worst short prose ever, for fun and competition.   I gave them each a copy of the 25 rotten blurbs and read them aloud.   We then broke all of the rules while writing with different genres in mind.   Romance, science fiction, fantasy, suspense, etc.   You get the idea.

Create a sentence or two that would never be published in a particular genre.   Adding genres to the assignment helps narrow students' ideas and focus their understanding on what a particular audience is expecting from the author.

In short, you have to know how to do it right before you can get it truly, deliciously wrong.   Repetitive language, inappropriate tone and diction for a genre and your audience, awkward comparisons that simply jolt your reader out of the text with a laugh...   Bad, badder, baddest-- that's what I'm talking about.

Yes, your English teacher is asking for your worst writing, but you are not in an AU.   Here's a Post-It.   Let's Battle!

Note: This Battle works best with average to advanced students, particularly those with quirky senses of humor.   You know, the kids that laugh at all of your goofy jokes.

Thanks to foreign language teacher Sandra Phillips for forwarding me an e-mail containing all of those baaaaaaaaaad examples.

Item #3 that does NOT need replacing: It was a sentimental favorite.   I found it at a yard sale.   The seller saw me setting aside all of his Willie Nelson LPs and mentioned that he had a van full of records in his back yard.   I found a sealed copy of a fly LP with this little jewel inside.   It's funny to see kids trying to pop and lock in between classes.   It's always good to know how to pass the flow.   Just don't ask me to battle with my hip hop moves.

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