what does "poorley written" mean?

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I've seen peeople say things are "poorley written" when to me theres honestly nothing wrong

the thing is I dont think I have a very good grasp on what it means when somthing is "poorley written" aside from very obvious examples

so what is it?

-is it dialouge?
-is it charachters?
-is it the plot?

I'd like examples...and not painfully obvious ones like the room, but ones that are less obvious, and reasons why

reason I ask is (you may have seen from other threads) I've been getting into writing some stories and I want a better understanding of things I should be avoiding

Must not say Vault101's spelling, must not say Vault101's spelling, must not say Vault101'spelling.

Vault101's spelling!

It can be a number of things, from pacing, to character dialogue, to actual characters (Mary Sues and such).

Really, the best thing you can do is read, and read often. You'll get a feel for what is good and what is bad.

... it's "poorly".

Sorry, I had to.

If something makes you laugh and the intended reaction was not laughter, it's probably poorly written.

If you're getting bored while watching or playing something (and it's not because the gameplay is tedious or repetitive), it's probably poorly written.

If you want to skip every cut-scene so you can get back to the action, the game is probably poorly written. This one is more of a variable though, because some things are inherently more interesting to some people than others. For instance, I find Metal Gear Solid to be very interesting, but I fully understand other people who say that the cut-scenes drag on for far too long and I believe that a good editor was desperately needed to slap Kojima's hands away from the scripts at some point.

There are things that are badly written but entertaining nonetheless - See the entire Devil May Cry franchise, particularly 3 and 4 because 1 has a practically nonexistent story and 2 is a convoluted piece of piss-whiffle. In this case, there's generally a high amount of cheese and self-awareness present within the writing, which is what elevates it to being entertaining in the first place.

When it comes to dialogue, there's a certain balance that needs to be struck between exposition dumping and fluffy banter. Too little and the characters won't feel developed, but too much and it'll feel tedious to try going through all of it. There's more leeway in general with dialogue than with descriptive prose though, because typically it's not as difficult to visualize a conversation as it is the location an author is trying to portray. Also, it's not all that difficult to excuse your way out of characters that are 'poorly written' on purpose, especially if they're juxtaposed against well-written characters.

Daystar Clarion:
Must not say Vault101's spelling, must not say Vault101's spelling, must not say Vault101'spelling.

Vault101's spelling!

Aaaaaaand there's the entire forum being ninja'd.

Haha the misspelling of the title just makes this hilarious. One thing that I would consider to be poor writing is using too many complex descriptors when something simple would do.

Well there's the obvious spelling and grammatical errors for starters.
Then there's just... bad writing... like when pacing isn't done right, plot holes, characters constantly "godmoding" through the plot and a lot of other things that makes the story hard to enjoy.

Plot holes especially, that deserves a double mention because of how badly it can ruin something.

When I gave Tyra Banks's novel Modelland a try (shutup I was bored), I found that she made what I consider to be the biggest mistake any writer can do. She forgot that the readers don't know and feel the things that she knows and feels about the story. For instance, in the beginning the main characters mocks a girl who hasn't done anything to her. The girl being mocked starts acting like a rhymes-with-hitch later in the book, but at that point we had been given no reason to dislike her, so the protagonist just seemed mean when she mocked her. In short: Make sure that the readers get the impression they're supposed to get from your characters.

shrekfan246:

When it comes to dialogue, there's a certain balance that needs to be struck between exposition dumping and fluffy banter. Too little and the characters won't feel developed, but too much and it'll feel tedious to try going through all of it.

good advice!

when I think about it, I think uncharted is kind of badly written.....as Ive said before 99% of the dialouge is sarcastic banter which is tedious when theres nothing to contrast too...the only 2 times I ever found somthing actually funny said in an uncharted game was in U3 a charachter refers to the villan as "scary poppins" and at the end when sully screams "THIS IS WHY WE CANT HAVE NICE THINGS" as the level collapses

and in ME3 the charachters would (annoyingly) go into codex mode and spew out facts that the player SHOULD REALLY KNOW at this point in the series

Read Twilight. If Stephanie Meyer did it, you shouldn't.

Really, the best way to tell if something is good or not is to see if it is interesting, fun, and surprising. If everyone sees something coming, it isn't well written. My girlfriend hates watching movies with me because she has shitty taste in movies, and 9 times out of 10, I can see what is coming next. The times I don't, I call a plot twist that the writer is actually too lazy to use, and even she thinks it was a shittily written piece of ass that was badly written.

Also, CHECK FACTS! If you use science to explain something, make sure it makes sense to the people who are reading it.

And dear GOD, spell check yourself often, as your spelling and grammar are atrocious.

- Bad spelling/grammar
- Facts aren't right (5+5=12!)
- Awkward dialogue (doesn't sound like a real person is speaking)
- Makes you laugh when you read it.
- Vault 101's spelling (it's already been done, but it needs repeating)

Those are the main ones for me.

Supertegwyn:
- Bad spelling/grammar
- Facts aren't right (5+5=12!)
- Awkward dialogue (doesn't sound like a real person is speaking)
- Makes you laugh when you read it.
- Vault 101's spelling (it's already been done, but it needs repeating)

Those are the main ones for me.

Well if it's meant to be funny that's not bad, but like watching a cutscene in say World of Warcraft. Yeah laughing at that is bad writing.

Well if you are on the IMDB message boards, 'poor writing' is a tortured and abused term which people use to describe any narrative direction or event they didn't like in a tv show or movie "I didn't like that the writers killed off this character so therefore they are talentless hacks".

In the reality outside of those deluded minds, if something is poorly written it is basically just awkward to read and/or has a lot of spelling/grammatical errors. Pretty much everything Supertegwyn listed.

Vault101:
I've seen peeople say things are "poorley written" when to me theres honestly nothing wrong

the thing is I dont think I have a very good grasp on what it means when somthing is "poorley written" aside from very obvious examples

so what is it?

This is a rather wide and broad subject and question, but I'll break it down for each of the topics you've listed below, 'cause it applies to all of them.
Oh, and am I the only one that thinks this is a joke with your spelling, and that you intended it like this. I'm going to guess other people acknowledge that and are just joking about your bad spelling, but really if not it seems way too obvious to me that that is an intended joke.

-is it dialouge?

For dialogue poorly written things can be in a couple of varieties. It usually crosses with character and plot as well though.
Things to avoid in Dialogue are what I like to call "Blizzard Dialogue", after what Blizzard did in Diablo 3 [Yes, this does mean Diablo 3 examples. Spoilers], or Captain Obvious if you'd prefer. Basically, pointing out something that is horribly obvious with no real reason to it. Kinda like the Darth Vader "NOOOOOOOO" in a way. One example is Leia or whatever her name is in Diablo 3 is going with her scene with Tyreal. We see Tyreal give up his place in Heaven to protect the humans, and then she basically says "You gave up your place to help us". Well no shit, what were we just shown. It would have been just as effective to keep moving on with Tyreal's vision, or have said fewer words that held as much meaning. As well as that, in the beginning the "My Uncle saw what he wanted to see" line was rather unnecessary. "It was all just stories" rather got the point across, and if you feel the need in to clarify more, you don't need to include "My Uncle" to specify who it was, its rather obvious from the fact you're sitting over his grave. Show, don't tell. Rule #1, 2 or 3 of story telling. Well, probably none of those but its important nonetheless.
Some might disagree with me there, mostly on the semantics I guess, but an important thing to note is that those conversations are awkward. Would you talk like that IRL? No? Then why is someone talking like that?
Unless its intended to be non-normal dialogue thanks to culture or race [I.E: Mass Effect Hanar], then you should write things that would only be said in real life. The one and only golden rule of dialogue IMO, and this is coming for someone who is usually praised for his dialogue in the pieces I have written and given to others to review.
Other than that, its fairly obvious; Don't make a character say something that doesn't fit their character, unless its a part of the plot [I.E: A Lawful Good Paladin who's all about saving people, redemption and forgiveness should NOT advocate killing someone. The exception to this is if their character is undergoing change thanks to what has happened to them, which should have been foreshadowed before this, or if they are under control of an evil necromancer or something who would say something like that], and don't have them say things that don't count towards either furthering the plot or the reader's understanding of the character [Having them spend pages just talking about random stuff for no real reason. A bit of that can be good to set the scene, just following every conversation someone would have though... It is incredibly boring, and if it doesn't matter then we don't need to hear it.]

-is it charachters?

Characters are a bit odd. There isn't a right or wrong way to do them, it all depends on the story. For the most part, keep the characters consistent with the type of story you're writing. If you're writing a more serious story, have the characters not be 2D cutout tropes that are bleedingly cliched and have little to no personality. If you're writing a light hearted story where the characters themselves don't really matter, kinda like a kids story, feel free to make the characters as lite on detail as you like. In fact, overdoing the character can sometimes make it not fit in with the story as well. Mostly I'd say play it by ear. If it doesn't feel right, its not right.

-is it the plot?

Plot is rather like characters. How it goes depends on what sort of story you're writing. Golden rules, however, are to not make a convoluted mess out of it. Everything should always be within reason, and should be explained later. I.E; its fine to have something that makes no sense at some time, but you have to explain it later, and even then you should probably foreshadow it as well. No giving the character an amazing ability to fly for no reason then just writing it off as "He discovered he could fly". Nonono, that doesn't cut it unless you're writing a kids book. At the very least he should be foreshadowed as having powers that he still doesn't know all the secrets behind. Preferably something more substantial than that though.
Additionally; Under no circumstances should you break the rules of your universe. Your universe says you can't fly, but flying would be a really cool way out of this situation? NO. Do what humans do and find a way within your universe's laws that that person can fly, I.E: A flying machine like a plane or hot air balloon, and use that instead.

Of course these are obvious examples, but using actual examples is likely to ignite flame wars 'cause everyone's got an opinion on the Internet.

Anyway, best way to tell if your writing is poorly written or not is to read over it yourself and see if it sounds awkward, if it does - fix it - if it doesn't, pass it on to someone else to review. If they don't think it sounds awkward - cool. If they do - fix it. Repeat until you've got a broad range of opinions on it and most, if not all, people think it sounds fine.

Really though, most of this stuff is rather obvious. If it feels even slightly awkward, or like it wouldn't happen IRL or IRL if IRL was the world in your story, then it shouldn't be there. Unless that's intentional, but you've got to play that card carefully as well.

Spade Lead:
If everyone sees something coming, it isn't well written.

I wouldn't agree with this. If its meant to be a really major twist that people shouldn't be coming, yeah, then its poorly written if its obvious.
If its a minor twist, it doesn't matter too much. If its more of a cliched story like a retelling of Cinderella where people are supposed to see what's coming, its well written.
It really depends what type of story it is as to whether people should be able to see it coming or not.

Supertegwyn:
- Facts aren't right (5+5=12!)

'Do you remember,' he went on, 'writing in your diary, "Freedom is the freedom to say that five plus five make ten"?'

'Yes,' said the audience.

The bad writer held up his two hands, their backs towards the audience, with the all fingers extended.

'How many fingers am I holding up, audience?'

'Ten.'

'And if I say that it is not ten but twelve -- then how many?'

'Ten.'

The word ended in a gasp of pain. The needle of the dial had shot up to fifty-five. The sweat had sprung out all over the audience. The air tore into their lungs and issued again in deep groans which even by clenching teeth they could not stop. The bad writer watched them, the ten fingers still extended. He drew back the lever. This time the pain was only slightly eased.

'How many fingers, audience?'

'Ten.'

The needle went up to sixty.

'How many fingers, audience?'

'Ten! Ten! What else can I say? Ten!'

The needle must have risen again, but they did not look at it. The heavy, stern face and the ten fingers filled their vision. The fingers stood up before their eyes like pillars, enormous, blurry, and seeming to vibrate, but unmistakably ten.

'How many fingers, audience?'

'Ten! Stop it, stop it! How can you go on? Ten! Ten!'

'How many fingers, audience?'

'Twelve! Twelve! Twelve!'

'No, audience, that is no use. You are lying. You still think there are ten. How many fingers, please?'

'Ten! Twelve! Ten! Anything you like. Only stop it, stop the pain!'

Abruptly they were sitting up with the bad writer's arm round his shoulders. They had perhaps lost consciousness for a few seconds. The bonds that had held their bodies down were loosened. They felt very cold, they were shaking uncontrollably, their teeth were chattering, the tears were rolling down their cheeks. For a moment they clung to the bad writer like a baby, curiously comforted by the heavy arm round their shoulders. They had the feeling that the bad writer was their protector, that the pain was something that came from outside, from some other source, and that it was the bad writer who would save them from it.

'You are slow learners, audience,' said the bad writer gently.

'How can we help it?' they blubbered. 'How can we help seeing what is in front of our eyes? Five and five are ten.'

'Sometimes, audience. Sometimes they are twelve. Sometimes they are eight. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.'

I suggest getting yourself a copy of The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. It's hard to find a better source on what separates good writing styles from bad ones.

Something else you might want to check out is author Jenny Trout's blog where she's been doing chapter summaries of the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. The books are a great example of bad writing, and Jen explains just what makes them fail so hard (she's also hilarious to read. But the books do have adult content, and Jen does write for mature audiences, so take that into account.) As a bonus, Jen is now releasing her own story in the same genre as 50 Shade (that's "BDSM romance" not "Twilight fanfiction") for free, so there's a well-written story for comparison.

Unfortunately the question of what separates good writing from bad is very complex. Writing is a craft--there's a LOT that goes into it. So find some resources on the subject (there are lots of books on the topic and probably several websites as well) and study up.

Vault101:

shrekfan246:

When it comes to dialogue, there's a certain balance that needs to be struck between exposition dumping and fluffy banter. Too little and the characters won't feel developed, but too much and it'll feel tedious to try going through all of it.

good advice!

when I think about it, I think uncharted is kind of badly written.....as Ive said before 99% of the dialouge is sarcastic banter which is tedious when theres nothing to contrast too...the only 2 times I ever found somthing actually funny said in an uncharted game was in U3 a charachter refers to the villan as "scary poppins" and at the end when sully screams "THIS IS WHY WE CANT HAVE NICE THINGS" as the level collapses

and in ME3 the charachters would (annoyingly) go into codex mode and spew out facts that the player SHOULD REALLY KNOW at this point in the series

Uncharted is another one of those "your mileage may vary" games, when it comes down to it. It's no exemplary piece of writing in video games, but there's nothing particularly offensive about it either. The character of Nathan Drake is a sarcastic tosser, but there is a reason for that and the worst part of the writing is that it never really pays off in the end. If we had seen Nathan Drake, beaten and broken and behind his mask of sarcasm, it would have elevated him to the realm of a legitimately good video game character. I mean, the closest thing is the whole desert section of Uncharted 3, and Drake goes right back to normal afterwards, doesn't he?

But the writing itself is another one of those Devil May Cry-esque situations, because while a lot of people hate Drake's character because of how nonchalant he is in combat, I generally found his quips to be amusing - Partly because staunch, manly, grimacing, grunting men in power armor is something that's been done to death and it was nice to see a protagonist that tries to stay lighthearted in the face of certain danger. Also, I guess the frequency of his sarcasm was just lower for me than literally everyone else on the planet, because I hardly ever heard him doing anything more than "Haha!" or other such short exclamations.

And the Mass Effect franchise as a whole is a large offender of giving certain characters overblown exposition dumps. Particularly Liara.

One thing that can turn me right off a book is unnecessary detail, or huge chunks of it at once. Don't spend a page describing someone if they have one line, and if they are worth describing, generally you have enough time to break the description up a bit. Conversely, make sure you describe important details. For example, a good crime thriller is one in which it's entirely possible to work out the criminals identity at the same time or before the lead. If we aren't told a detail crucial to the case until after the criminal is caught, that's bad writing.

Edgar Allan Poe, King of the Short Story, felt that everything that is in a story should be there for a reason. Which means that unnecessary details, tangential loose-ends, and pretty much anything that makes your story drag is an example of bad writing.

One very clear example that always bugged me is the French fairy-tale "Bluebeard." The story itself is interesting, but the titular villain's blue beard... is completely pointless! There's never any explanation as to why his beard is blue, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the central theme of the plot. His beard could have been any color, and it wouldn't have changed anything except the stupid title of an otherwise pretty good story.

That's just one example of one particular kind of bad writing. There are many ways to make writing good or bad.

For the record, I suck at writing dialog.

Daystar Clarion:
Must not say Vault101's spelling, must not say Vault101's spelling, must not say Vault101'spelling.

Vault101's spelling!

SNIPPED REST

Damn it Daystar, you ninja'd me!

OT: To answer your question... dialogue, characters, and plot can be poorly written, often at the same time. My own way to check dialogue I've written - or in other books/games as well for that matter - is to read it out loud. If it sounds weird, stilted, and/or unnatural then it's poorly written. Characters that blend into each other, where you could literally substitute one for the other and no one would know the difference, is an example of bad character writing.

Bad spelling/grammar however doesn't mean that the story itself is bad, it just means it'll take the person reading it longer to understand and get into it - which isn't a good thing. So make sure you have a friend to act editor for you; every writer needs one.

Generally, it means stuff like character saying things that no person would say, or grammatical errors.
It can also mean a poorly written character, who would be unrealistic in terms of characterisation, or just plain Mary-Suish.
Then there's poorly written plots (i.e., bad pacing, bad or conflicting descriptions, plot holes, unresolved plotlines, lack of build-up or context).

Also:

BrassButtons:
Something else you might want to check out is author Jenny Trout's blog where she's been doing chapter summaries of the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. The books are a great example of bad writing, and Jen explains just what makes them fail so hard

This.

The problem with that phrase is that people will often use it to describe things that they just don't like. For example, the whole idea about having too much detail. There can't really be too much detail if the writer is good enough, although I guess some people just don't like it. I would say that something is poorly written if it doesn't flow well or fails to absorb the reader into the story and the character's world.

Aside from this, there are techniques that really shouldn't be employed in writing. Firstly, the ones like Chairman Miaow mentioned about crime thrillers. You can't create a mystery by just withholding information. That's cheating. Then there are things like writers using a lot of different words instead of "said" in dialogue.

Anyway, this is really too wide a topic. Maybe you can find a book that details those bad writing techniques that should be avoided.

DoPo:

Supertegwyn:
- Facts aren't right (5+5=12!)

'Do you remember,' he went on, 'writing in your diary, "Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make ten"?'

'Yes,' said the audience.

The bad writer held up his two hands, their backs towards the audience, with the all fingers extended.

'How many fingers am I holding up, audience?'

'Ten.'

'And if I say that it is not ten but twelve -- then how many?'

'Ten.'

The word ended in a gasp of pain. The needle of the dial had shot up to fifty-five. The sweat had sprung out all over the audience. The air tore into their lungs and issued again in deep groans which even by clenching teeth they could not stop. The bad writer watched them, the ten fingers still extended. He drew back the lever. This time the pain was only slightly eased.

'How many fingers, audience?'

'Ten.'

The needle went up to sixty.

'How many fingers, audience?'

'Ten! Ten! What else can I say? Ten!'

The needle must have risen again, but they did not look at it. The heavy, stern face and the ten fingers filled their vision. The fingers stood up before their eyes like pillars, enormous, blurry, and seeming to vibrate, but unmistakably ten.

'How many fingers, audience?'

'Ten! Stop it, stop it! How can you go on? Ten! Ten!'

'How many fingers, audience?'

'Twelve! Twelve! Twelve!'

'No, audience, that is no use. You are lying. You still think there are ten. How many fingers, please?'

'Ten! Twelve! Ten! Anything you like. Only stop it, stop the pain!'

Abruptly they were sitting up with the bad writer's arm round his shoulders. They had perhaps lost consciousness for a few seconds. The bonds that had held their bodies down were loosened. They felt very cold, they were shaking uncontrollably, their teeth were chattering, the tears were rolling down their cheeks. For a moment they clung to the bad writer like a baby, curiously comforted by the heavy arm round their shoulders. They had the feeling that the bad writer was their protector, that the pain was something that came from outside, from some other source, and that it was the bad writer who would save them from it.

'You are slow learners, audience,' said the bad writer gently.

'How can we help it?' they blubbered. 'How can we help seeing what is in front of our eyes? Five and five are ten.'

'Sometimes, audience. Sometimes they are twelve. Sometimes they are eight. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.'

Explaining bad writing with good writing, that's the way to do it.

Once up on a time there was a man named Charlie, he did not have anything in his pockets. He walked to the shop and took €5 out of his pocket and bought a cake. The end.

First, important point: most people don't know what's good writing and what's bad writing, including people commenting on this thread. This also includes myself :) I have some idea, but I don't think I have read and analyzed prose enough to really know this well.

If you want to know what's good and what's bad writing I'd suggest you have to read a lot, and not only for entertainment, but read and reread stuff, analyzing the prose, rhythm, etc. Write and have people you think are good writers critique your work. Critique other people's work. Read some more, and then more, try to understand what makes good writers good and bad writers bad. Rinse, repeat, etc. It's a process.

Also, understand this: people like things that are badly-written (stephanie meyer, most videogames, etc), and often don't like things that are well-written (James Joyce, etc). Liking stuff is really different than it being well-made, though they're not completely uncorrelated. Well-written prose can be incredibly boring, and badly-written stuff can be fun/exciting. In a story the emotional elements may draw the reader in more than simply whether the writing is "good" or "bad".

So, there are many dimensions, and the road is long. When people say "writing in X is bad" they're often really saying "I don't like X" or something like it, although of course most people have an intuitive grasp about quality. It depends a lot on the amount of previous exposure one had to writing (and good writing in particular).

I don't really know what to tell you. Someone a little better versed in writing than myself could probably give you very specific reasons, but all I can really tell you is that there is a difference, and it's pretty obvious. If you're having a hard time telling the difference, read something really well written, like "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss, and then immediately read something that isn't as well written, like "Harry Potter." I'd like to take this opportunity to say a book doesn't have to be well written to be a good book. Anyway, you can really tell the difference between the masterful way Rothfuss uses language and the merely mediocre way Rowling does. It's like, when Rowling writes, she writes well enough that the language doesn't get in the way. When Rothfuss writes, he writes so well that the language enhances the story.

You might be a better critic of painting than me, most people are, but for me it's kinda like looking at a kid's crayon drawing and an impressionist painting. They're both kinda blurry, and not really accurate depictions of what was painted or drawn, and I couldn't point to anything and say, this is why they're different, but I'd know the impressionist painting was of a higher quality.

So, I guess my point is, go ask your English teacher, or if they don't give you a satisfactory answer, go down to the local college and ask one of the writing professors. They'd probably be able to tell you why one is better, but all you have to do is read something like "Name of the Wind" side by side with something like "Harry Potter" or something like "Sword of Truth" or even something that's really well written, but not quite as masterfully done like the "Night Angel" trilogy and the difference becomes pretty apparent.

Supertegwyn:

- Awkward dialogue (doesn't sound like a real person is speaking)

Can I disagree? I think in some cases, specially in movies, the characters dialogue doesn't feel realistic, but I still consider it well written.
Let's see, House or Sherlock Holmes for example.

The true meanings of poorly written:

Character wise

- Characters peform differently to how they have been developed.
- Characters lack flaws or are not believable, the Mary Sue/Gary Stu.
- The dialogue is not realistic of what that actually person would say.
- The actions of a character contradict their beleiefs and is not confronted about them.
- Lack of character development in general.
- Stereotypes.

Story wise

- Plot holes.
- Subplots are left hanging.
- cliches and tropes everywhere and are used in an unoriginal way.
- The logic used is not the same as how it explained to be, for example in Doctor Who if the Doctor said "You can't meet a future/past version of yourself otherwise the universe would implode" and then he goes chatting to his past self in another episode.
- Things that need explaination are left unexplained.
- Bad pacing, if a movie is 1.5 hours long and you are still on the intro at about 50 mins in etc.
- Deus Ex Machina.
- Predictable.

What many people think it is:

- "It was badly written because I didn't like it".

Poorly written can mean many different things, I like to use it to describe any and all of these:

1) Bad spelling, grammar and or punctuation.

2.) Poor characterization, i.e. they don't make sense and you can't relate to them, or they have less personality than a plank of wood.

3) Plots or actions that don't make sense, i.e. a character acts in a certain way despite all their previous actions leading you to believe they wouldn't act this way etc, basically it's clear the author needed them to do x for the plot and y to be driven and progress.

4) Poorly written plot points.

5) Getting facts or in the case of fanfiction canon details wrong.

6) overuse or under use of descriptions; if you're a good writer you'll get it just right, i.e. enough to get the point across but not so much you're bored out your mind, think Tolkien's descriptions, okay we get it there's a leaf on the tree, no need to go into so much detail, I do have an imagination after all so let me use it.

7) Poorly written dialogue, so for example you might have a kid character that speaks far too maturely and for me that's poor dialogue unless it's clear they're some kind of super genius who's well read, because most kids don't speak properly and their words often run together and they may also have a lisp, so writing phonetically sometimes is appropriate. So for example a young child might not say "I don't like it! Do I have to?" but instead "I dun like it! Do I hafta?" Similarly you could have a professor type character that's supposedly educated yet they talk like an idiot because the author has a poor vocabulary.

8) Lastly poor pacing, this doesn't refer to how fast or slow the overall plot is, but how good or bad plot point 1 flows to plot point 2 etc and so on.

Vault101:
I've seen peeople say things are "poorley written" when to me theres honestly nothing wrong

the thing is I dont think I have a very good grasp on what it means when somthing is "poorley written" aside from very obvious examples

so what is it?

-is it dialouge?
-is it charachters?
-is it the plot?

I'd like examples...and not painfully obvious ones like the room, but ones that are less obvious, and reasons why

reason I ask is (you may have seen from other threads) I've been getting into writing some stories and I want a better understanding of things I should be avoiding

Poorly written can refer to anything you listed, or many more things. If a story has flat or unengaging characters, then the characters are poorly written. If the dialog is unbelievable or doesn't flow well, then the dialog is poorly written. If the plot doesn't make sense, doesn't move at a satisfying pace, doesn't engage the audience properly, or doesn't conclude satisfyingly then the plot is poorly written. There are also certain stylistic things that can indicate poor writing--too much detail, not enough detail, too many adjectives, bad similies and metaphors, too much description of scenery, things like that.

I've never read any H.P. Lovecraft books, but I've heard his dialog often leaves something to be desired. I don't think I can find it, but the example I saw was somebody like a farmer who was dying, yet giving a long and drawn out almost Shakespearian speech as he was dying. In reality there is no way a farmer would speak that way, and the way he was saying the dialog was overly dramatic and unrealistic. So that's an example of poorly written dialog--dialog that doesn't match the character, doesn't fit the situation, or resorts to stereotypes.

I'm sure I've seen poorly written characters before, but for the life of me I can't think of any right now. I suppose I could go with Jar Jar Binks--his character is steeped in so many terrible stereotypes just watching him is painful. He didn't have to be that way, he could have easily been the comic relief sidekick without sounding like he's straight out of Huck Finn. But they wrote him that way, and that's how he came out.

As for bad plot, the one on my mind the most at the moment is the plot of Brave. I'll put it in spoilers in case some people haven't seen it yet:

As for advice on your writing, I highly recommend tracking down Stephen King's book called "On Writing." It's partially a memoir, but it also has some great advice on the foundations of writing. Also, and I don't know how old you are, but if you have the opportunity in high school or college try to take at least one creative writing class. You don't have to take classes to be a great writer if you have it in you, but in those classes you'll get a basic sense of storytelling fundamentals, and you'll take part in one of the most important parts of the writing process--critique. You'll have your work critiqued by others, and you'll learn how to critique other works, which in turn allows you to more effectively analyze your own work. And I'm sure there are plenty of message boards on the Internet that are writing communities, so just look up some of them if you're looking for critique but don't have a class to show your work to.

Apart from that, the best advice I can give you is read. Just go out and read stuff. If you don't know what you like or what you should read, there are lots of lists online of "Best fantasy books," "Best books with female protagonists," "Best mystery books," "Best sci-fi books." And as you read, try to pick out what you like about the story, and think about why you like it. If you find yourself really engaged try to think about all that's going on to make you engaged. Or if you're bored out of your mind, try to pinpoint why and take note of that as well.

For example, the Shannara series by Terry Brooks is a very celebrated fantasy series, and I recently tried to get into it but for the life of me couldn't. I realized it was because there were so many huge information dumps. The section I was reading before I stopped had this "mysterious stranger" sitting on the porch of an inn the main protagonist worked (who was a plucky young lad wanting to go on adventures). The boy was sitting on the porch listening to the stranger talk about the history of the world. This monologue went on for pages and pages. He talked about ancient wars fought between long dead races, listed the names of famous ancient warriors and far off lands, and that's exactly why I couldn't connect. I hadn't seen enough of the world yet at that point in the story to care about who such-and-such land was ruled by long ago. While stories of epic battles are great to deepen the lore of a world, if it doesn't have a parallel with what's going on in the present it just feels like I've stopped reading a story and started reading a history textbook.

I have no doubt later there were parallels drawn between the events of the past and the events of the present (like how in the Lord of the Rings the battle with Sauron at the beginning is parallel to the battles the characters face in Frodo's time), but until there is existing context within the story to connect the pieces I don't see why I as a reader should care about those long-ago battles or the people that fought in them.

But then some people love that. They love feeling like they're reading the history book of some far-off land. Personally I'm more interested in character-building than world-building, but you might not be and there is room for both in the world of writing.

BrassButtons:
Something else you might want to check out is author Jenny Trout's blog where she's been doing chapter summaries of the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. The books are a great example of bad writing, and Jen explains just what makes them fail so hard (she's also hilarious to read. But the books do have adult content, and Jen does write for mature audiences, so take that into account.)

Just want to add another example of a similar blog, Reasoning with Vampires, which aims at picking apart the Twilight series. It's very focused on proper sentence structure (as well as when it is okay to go against the rules) and the use of commas, dashes, colons, and the like. Be warned though, there are very high levels of snark in there. ;)

I think there's a difference between "bad story structure", and "bad writing". By "story structure", I mean the point or what is trying to be conveyed (ex: my nitpicky definitions). By "writing", I mean how something is conveyed (ex: being Clear, Concise, and Consistent). Grammar can also apply, although it has more to do with the mechanics of the language medium.

ShinyCharizard:
Haha the misspelling of the title just makes this hilarious. One thing that I would consider to be poor writing is using too many complex descriptors when something simple would do.

Yo, you dissin' my homeboy H. P. Lovecraft?

In art, brevity is the elegance of the hasty hearts.

Chairman Miaow:
For example, a good crime thriller is one in which it's entirely possible to work out the criminals identity at the same time or before the lead. If we aren't told a detail crucial to the case until after the criminal is caught, that's bad writing.

Mysteries/thrillers are often a great place to find both good writing and bad, and it's usually very easy to see the difference in that context.

Were you able to determine the identity of the killer or solve all of the complex plot twists way before anyone in the story does? There's generally bad writing involved. Of course, there's always going to be some level of prescience on behalf of the reader, but if everything is too blatantly spelled out there is no mystery to the Mystery and the characters in the book end up feeling stupid because they don't see what's so obviously going on.

Were you totally unable to understand the identity of the killer even after the reveal or do you not understand any of the plot twists even after they've happened? Does the whole thing only make sense because the author says at the end that it makes sense? There's generally bad writing involved. Every Z needs an A. Everything that happens has to have some sort of reason and logic. The point of a mystery may be to confuse and misdirect, but if there is no trail to follow and no conclusions to be drawn, then it just feels as if the writer is throwing words at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Personally, I don't find bad writing to be anything too specific. It's more about the general feel of the piece. Dialogue, plotting, etc. can all be aspects of bad writing but I wouldn't necessarily say that any one is a make or break factor.

Anoni Mus:

Supertegwyn:

- Awkward dialogue (doesn't sound like a real person is speaking)

Can I disagree? I think in some cases, specially in movies, the characters dialogue doesn't feel realistic, but I still consider it well written.
Let's see, House or Sherlock Holmes for example.

Gah, so many quotes. Could you give a bit more detail? How exactly do you mean that the dialogue doesn't feel realistic? Do you mean in terms of setting or other factors?

DoPo:

Supertegwyn:
- Facts aren't right (5+5=12!)

'Do you remember,' he went on, 'writing in your diary, "Freedom is the freedom to say that five plus five make ten"?'

'Yes,' said the audience.

The bad writer held up his two hands, their backs towards the audience, with the all fingers extended.

'How many fingers am I holding up, audience?'

'Ten.'

'And if I say that it is not ten but twelve -- then how many?'

'Ten.'

The word ended in a gasp of pain. The needle of the dial had shot up to fifty-five. The sweat had sprung out all over the audience. The air tore into their lungs and issued again in deep groans which even by clenching teeth they could not stop. The bad writer watched them, the ten fingers still extended. He drew back the lever. This time the pain was only slightly eased.

'How many fingers, audience?'

'Ten.'

The needle went up to sixty.

'How many fingers, audience?'

'Ten! Ten! What else can I say? Ten!'

The needle must have risen again, but they did not look at it. The heavy, stern face and the ten fingers filled their vision. The fingers stood up before their eyes like pillars, enormous, blurry, and seeming to vibrate, but unmistakably ten.

'How many fingers, audience?'

'Ten! Stop it, stop it! How can you go on? Ten! Ten!'

'How many fingers, audience?'

'Twelve! Twelve! Twelve!'

'No, audience, that is no use. You are lying. You still think there are ten. How many fingers, please?'

'Ten! Twelve! Ten! Anything you like. Only stop it, stop the pain!'

Abruptly they were sitting up with the bad writer's arm round his shoulders. They had perhaps lost consciousness for a few seconds. The bonds that had held their bodies down were loosened. They felt very cold, they were shaking uncontrollably, their teeth were chattering, the tears were rolling down their cheeks. For a moment they clung to the bad writer like a baby, curiously comforted by the heavy arm round their shoulders. They had the feeling that the bad writer was their protector, that the pain was something that came from outside, from some other source, and that it was the bad writer who would save them from it.

'You are slow learners, audience,' said the bad writer gently.

'How can we help it?' they blubbered. 'How can we help seeing what is in front of our eyes? Five and five are ten.'

'Sometimes, audience. Sometimes they are twelve. Sometimes they are eight. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.'

I love you.

Eddie the head:

Supertegwyn:
- Bad spelling/grammar
- Facts aren't right (5+5=12!)
- Awkward dialogue (doesn't sound like a real person is speaking)
- Makes you laugh when you read it.
- Vault 101's spelling (it's already been done, but it needs repeating)

Those are the main ones for me.

Well if it's meant to be funny that's not bad, but like watching a cutscene in say World of Warcraft. Yeah laughing at that is bad writing.

That's what I meant, humour where it is not intended. Something like Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey.

It can be all of those things you listed, and it can be none of those things. Writing is an art, and the only way to get better at it is to practice. Here are two examples of poorly written and why I believe they are so:

1) In Killzone 3--or was it 2?--there's a level where you are suddenly driving a tank through the snow. In the previous level, you were on foot with no hint of the tank. Many people complained about the magical appearing tank, myself included. One person on here pointed out rather rudely that there are tanks in the background of the previous level. Okay, but it's still a poorly written transition. Mainly because there was no transition. All it would have taken would have been a few extra words. As the characters are running off, have one of them stop and look at the tank. "Hey, wait. I've got an idea." Done. If there are no transitions, even if the information/reasoning seems obvious to you (ESPECIALLY if it seems obvious to you since it's in your head), then you're going to get a lot of people telling you that you don't know how to write. You don't need to go into painful detail explaining everything, but you also can't assume that the reader knows everything you do. It's a balance.

2) Anakin Skywalker (and Mace Windu sort of). Oh, essays have been written on this character, but I will keep it down to one part. In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin rushes to Mace Windu's side. Mace has beaten the Soon-to-be-Emperor and says, "You are under arrest." Good, that's how a Jedi should act if they have completely defeated an opponent. Palpatine unleashes his last trick, which Mace easily blocks. This man is defeated. But suddenly, for no reason, Mace switches to executioner. "He's too dangerous to leave alive!" Wait, ten seconds ago you were going to arrest him? What happened? Bad character flip-flop right there. But it pales in comparison to what happens next.
As you know, Anakin betrays Mace and Mace dies. Anakin is in TEARS. He is weeping on his knees at what he's just done. This has clearly shaken him to his core and he doesn't know who he is anymore. Hayden does a poor job in acting the scene, but the idea behind it is a powerful one. Everything that Anakin has ever known is on shaky ground now, and it's made him sick. "What have I done?" "You're fulfilling your destiny." Okay! I'm off to murder all my friends, mentors, and freaking CHILDREN because four words were spoken to me. Four. Words. That is more than poorly written. That's just plain bad. That is the author forcing the character to change/do something to fit the story, instead of letting the story and characters flow and grow on their own. Anakin's fall should have been more gradual, his final turning point should have come after a slow build up of minor, horrible deeds. Not because one person tells him to turn.

You need to realize that a story has a life to it. You can guide it, give it a gentle push here or a slight redirect there, but when you start changing it to do what you want at the cost of the story and characters in it, you're murdering your story. Like I said, it's an art and it's going to take some practice. You also have to be ready to be told that your story sucks, and you suck, repeatedly (and yes, in those exact words if not worse). You'll need a tough skin.

Finally, learn how grammar works and learn how to spell. Screwing up the basics will make even the best story fall apart because no one will take it seriously.

And have fun with it. :-)

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