Using the VUB Library

Writing a CV

Writing a TAP Page

Writing a Book Review


North American Viewpoints

Tutoring Me Softly

Watch out!Writing Diseases About!



Dr De Vuyst informs us of serious writing diseases which are afflicting VeCo students. You have been warned! This is what you will not find in any writer's handbook or editing manual: most writers are diseased. They suffer from terrible, terrifying, terrorizing diseases. Knowing your own favorite disease is the first step in recovering your writing health.
So here is a catalogue of the most common diseases found recently around the Schoofstraat.

Brothers Grimm disease
Makes your paper read like a fairy-tale.
"Now there was the Coal and Steel Union..."
"And then in 1991, there was the Maastricht Treaty..."
"Now when the Amsterdam Treaty came about..."

René Descartes' disease
Suggests that you exist, and might perchance have a brain.
"I think this is a good thing."
"I think I should focus."

A common variant of this sufferance is Louis XIV disease. Its symptoms suggest that you might have a brain, but assures the reader that you have an ego.
"We think that this is an issue."
"We now turn our thinking to the question of the democratic deficit."

If the author becomes sufficiently muddled or baffled by the subject, the previous two diseases often fuse, making the inept writer degenerate into the much-feared Walrus disease (Lennon/ McCartney: "I am he as you are he as you are we as we are altogether..."), as "we" waltzes into "us" and tangos into "them", without the reader ever discovering who the writer is attempting to talk about.
Also of some concern is the But disease, which shows up when writers start their sentences consistently with "But...". A simple cure is to repeat every night while washing up that your "but" is behind (other words in the sentence).
Very common is the MTV disease, in which the writer uses slang, colloquialisms or other malaproprisms.
Yo dude, cool talk.
"A number one topic is the European Union".

There are a number of variations of MTV disease, including one closely related to the Grimm illness, namely the Disney Channel Morning Sickness, which makes even the most dour subject look rosy.

"Other good things for Europe are..."

"The Union is facing a few very bad things."

Some recent hard-core examples show how dangerous things become when MTV touches your paper.
Titanica "Subsidiarization makes the European Union go down".
Potted Hamlet "Even Denmark said yes"
Speedo "My job in this paper is bringing you up to speed."
Shades of Peckinpah "The Union is governed by a bunch of treaties."

Finally, many writers, despairing of meaningful thought after scraping the surface of a topic to no avail, will fall to Q Disease, in which the rhetorical question becomes a tool for filling that awful, blank page.

"What good will this do to the Union?"
"Will subsidiarity ever be defined?"
"What about the countries left out?"

So, be on your guard and make sure you stay away from these dreaded diseases


Copyright ©The Writing Center OnLine. 1998-2000