Pop Culture: If at first you don’t succeed, utilize giving up
Editor’s note: The Pop Culture guy didn’t like thecolumn he wrote this week, so here’s an unfinished backup, previously unpublished. He didn’t like this one, either, but he thought it was better than the other one.
You may wonder what went wrong with the original column.
For starters, it didn’t have an introductory section, also called a “setup,” where the writer establishes the basis for what follows.
Sometimes that part comes easily, but not this time.
Here’s part of the column, without a true introductory portion:
You know what word I consider underrated??
If people started using it in everyday conversation, I probably wouldn’t like it.
I doubt that will happen. Most people say, “Who’s running for governor?”
Want an example of an overrated word??
Nobody (other than maybe a gubernatorial candidate) uses that word in everyday conversation.
But oh how people love to wedge it into a piece of writing.
“If the front door is locked, please utilize the back entrance.”
A lot of words are like that. It turns up in print, but people rarely say it in general conversation.
“So advise me about what transpired.”
“Affirmative. At approximately 9 p.m. Thursday, my female sibling, Maggie, arrived at my residence. She was in a quandary about her career progress, and commented that she must utilize her college degree more effectively.”
“What were you able to ascertain?”
“I instructed Maggie to pursue a writing career.”
Writing requires a certain amount of formality. But if you ever write something, and wonder if it’s too formal, do a test: Read it aloud to someone. If it sounds like the example above, it’s probably too formal.
This doesn’t mean that anything goes. The following intraoffice memo would probably be going too far the other way.
“How’ s it goin’? Oh, I was gonna mention: you know how some of you, when you go on break, and you don’ t punch out? Yeah, you need to not do that.
“No big deal or anything, but it’ s been happening, like, a lot lately and everything. Sometimes it’ s easy to forget, but try harder and stuff. Thanks. Keep it real!”
Employees might miss the main point, because they’re wondering when Holden Caulfield became their boss.
So that’s a sample of the original column. The rest didn’t really work.
It also didn’t have a conclusion.