Craig Shaw Gardner: Dangerously Creative Writer of Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction


Broadcasts from the underside, and somewhere over slightly to the left

All Kirk All the Time

Saturday, August 05, 2006And now, for an example of the madness that is Kirk Polland.

As stated in my last blog, as moderator, it is my duty to read an actual example of bad prose. Something like the following:

"Moving quickly from the radio to her living quarters, she squeezed a little water into a plastic container and put a few dabs of toothpaste on her brush. She slipped the brush into her mouth and pressed the small bitton the end which activated its electric motor. The bristles -- soft, gentle bristles, guaranteed not to damage the enamel or the gum -- moved swiftly against the teeth. She began with the top left molars, worked round to the bicuspids, and came round again from them to the incisors, the canines, the laterals and the centrals. Once she reached the front of her mouth, she changed the grip on her brush ..."

This teeth cleaning description goes on for quite a bit, then continues in a new paragraph.

"Once more she put paste on the brush in this same elaborate ritual and concentrated her attention now upon ..."

That's where the bad prose ends -- mid-sentence, and it is the duty of the contestants to finish the thought in a convincing enough style to fool the Readercon audience.

Except for me. My duty is to write something silly, like what follows next:

"Once more she put paste on the brush in this same elaborate ritual and concentrated her attention now upon the most wonderful man in the world, her beloved Brian. She quickly checked his restraints. Yes, he was still bound securely to the chair, with the metal clamps pulling back his lips to reveal his own lovely set of molars, teeth that one day would be every bit as white as her own.

"Did she see fear in his eyes? 'Mmm Nnn Mmm Nnn!' he protested vigorously.

"'Oh, honey-poo,' she purred. 'We're only brushing now.'

"He relaxed a bit at that, and she set to work, concentrating her efforts in every corner of his dental array. He had the most beautiful incisors! And that one, slightly chipped molar -- some women might reject a man for such an imperfection, but she found the damage rather exciting. She licked her minty-fresh lips despite herself.

"A mere twenty minutes, and she was done. 'There, honey-poo. That wasn't so bad!'

"But the fear was back in Brian's eyes. 'Mmm Nnn Mmm Nnn!' he moaned even more piteously.

"What could she say to that? They both knew what happened next. And there was no way she could stop it. She needed what came next. And Brian did, too.

"Soon, the flossing would begin."


And thus ends our reading of Kirk (taken from our most recent event, btw).

Any questions?

Posted by Craig Shaw Gardner at 9:12 AM |  

3 Comments so far ...

Derek, 4:23 PM | Story

This might be a stupid question although many people (professors, instructors and military superiors) have told me that there are no stupid questions, only stupid people. But that's beside the point. My question: what exactly qualifies bad prose? According to most dictionaries, "prose" seems to be common, everyday speech that doesn't consist of any metrical structure that would be found in, say, poetry. Isn't "bad prose" just dependent on the beholder? Or are we speaking in terms of flamboyancy? I ask this as a somewhat author-wannabe, and I would really hate to venture into the realm of "bad prose" unknowingly only to be rejected because of said prose. Should I brush my teeth as regularly as your main character? Should I tie up my wife? You may choose which questions to answer.  

amysue, 10:54 PM | Story

Wow. I am shocked to read such a thing on a family blog. How horrid! You are a bad, bad man.

(I miss the KP contests and am glad they continue)  

Craig Shaw Gardner, 2:39 PM | Story

Derek, bad prose is indeed in the eye on the beholder. Although, paragraph after paragraph about tooth brushing is probably very rarely GOOD prose.

And Amy, you have no excuse missing Kirk. Oh, no doubt you have any number of feeble excuses -- your aging mother needs you, your husband requires quality time, your children both have fevers of 102 -- it's just that we won't accept any of these! Nope, show up at next year's Kirk, or risk defenestration!