Saturday, December 14, 2013

3 Reasons Ashley Cline Writes Well

The question came up whether Ashley Cline writes well. She's my niece, but I need to analyze the question dispassionately. I looked at a sample of her work at her school paper, the Clipper. I looked at the first 3 examples and saw the following.

1. "Rainier Hall Begins Repairs" shows that she can write utility articles usefully. Just as some stonework is  not statuary but sidewalks, so too some writing is not poetry but utilitarian. Just as you wouldn't want a sidewalk with so many chiseled flourishes that people fall off it, so too you don't want utility articles to have too many decorations. Mostly they need the Who/What/Where/etc.. This article got 'r done and that makes it good!

2. "Doctor Who: Who cares?" shows that she can write explanatory articles honestly and with a light heart. I came away from the article feeling like I has learned a lot about the show, and even though the article read quite fast. I especially liked
"...Many people do not understand the appeal of the show. They hear that the main actor changes every few years, or that the main villain is a salt-shaker with a plunger and a whisk for a weapon. Both of those are very true points,..."
This passage is honest. While the writer is a fan of the show, she is not blind to what nonfan readers are going to think, and addresses issues of interest to them. The elevates the writing above the level of mere fan reporting. In addition, the phrase "very true points" is much funnier than simply "true". As Terry Pratchett explained at a book-signing I was lucky enough to attend, and ordinary, utilitarian phrase can turn funny by the addition of an unnecessary word (His example: "Smack inna face with a fist" is not funny, but "Smack inna face with a stinky fist" is.) Somehow, converting the utilitarian "true" to the more grandeloquent "very true points" introduces humor.

3. Finally, the movie review "REVIEW: Thor: The Dark World" combined those two features: it was both useful - it gave me a good idea whether I would enjoy the movie - and amusing. To me, the most important part of a review is its power to help me figure out where to spend my time and money - and this review does so. The reviewer explained what she found important in this movie, and also explained a few other things that other people might find of interest. A really good review does this while amusing me, and this review's gentle humor kept me reading until the end.
I was puzzled about the review's reference to "Shirtless Thor" but that may be just because I'm an old fuddy-duddy uncle who is not prepared for my nieces to be out of middle school. I promise not to inflict my illusions on them, as they grow into fine adults and, in this case, a talented writer!

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