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Yes, Virginia, it is OK for a writer to play with the form

As a boy, my favorite story genre was the cowboy movie.  As I got a little older, I left Hopalong Cassidy behind in favor of parodies of cowboy movies, the kind of thing Mad magazine produced or Mel Brooks perfected in Blazing Saddles.

No doubt, good writers learn how to fulfill the requirements of a particular writing form, whether it’s the inverted pyramid or the three-act play. One sign of mastery is the ability to parody. In order to ridicule something well, you need to discover its actual elements. That’s a lesson I learned from poet Donald Hall and his 1973 textbook Writing Well.

He includes an example of journalist Oliver Jensen making fun of the way President Eisenhower talked.  First Jensen must learn the quirks of Ike’s awkward rhetoric. Then he applies it to the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln may have said: “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation….” Ike’s version might have been, “I haven’t checked these figures but 87 years ago, I think it was, a number of individuals organized a government set-up here in this country….”

Last year at this time, it was my turn. Read more

from Poynter. http://ift.tt/1B4B6Al

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