How to Be a Dishonest Writer: An Introduction
It doesn’t take talent to be a dishonest writer who publishes dishonest writing. All it takes is a close-minded ideology, a keyboard and an internet connection.
Then again, in all fairness, it also doesn’t take talent to be an honest writer who publishes honest writing. All it takes is an open-minded ideology, a keyboard and an internet connection.
Easy peasy either way.
It does, however, take talent to be a convincing dishonest writer who publishes dishonest writing. Unless all you’re doing is targeting that writing to the most indoctrinated individuals on your side, there are steps you’ll need to take to sound believable.
For one, you’ll have to provide leading language – if not doctored facts – to make your tall tales resonate as effectively as possible with the largest audience possible.
Of course, Innovative Editing would never recommend you be a dishonest writer in the first place. However, it understands that it’ll take a major “come to Jesus” moment to make any dishonest writers out there change their ways.
So why bother when it’s an absolute waste of time? Reality is what it is, like it or not.
As such, if you’re going to be a dishonest writer publishing dishonest writing… here are three ways to do so without piling insult on top of injury for readers with half a brain.
1. Use a lot of leading language.
Let’s say you’re writing about a criminal court case where you have an unhealthy, unprofessional bias. For whatever reason, you personally can’t stand the defendant and are heavily invested in him going down hard.
In that case, don’t worry. You don’t have to come right out and say, “I personally can’t stand the defendant and am heavily invested in him going down hard,” complete with a picture of you jumping up and down on a poster-sized image of him while screaming your rage.
That won’t get you anywhere with those readers out there with half a brain. You need to be a little more subtle than that.
You need to be stealthy…
You need to use adjectives. And adverbs. Those two are your automatic friends.
This isn’t to bash adjectives and adverbs on their own. Many honest and even convincing honest writers love those two parts of speech. They just tend to use them a little more sparingly with a lot less ill-intent.
A convincing honest writer, for instance, might publish a piece about “the greyed-out sky of a hell-hole warzone,” noting how “the ‘fortunate’ few survivors slunk vacantly from empty house to ruined home.”
Nothing wrong with that at face value.
But there is something wrong with using a lot of adjectives and adverbs in that court case mentioned before.
The defendant scowled significantly as his key accuser expressed herself with all the eloquence she could muster in that moment of fearful honesty. The tears shining in her eyes were real. They were raw. And they were felt by every honest person in that room.
That last adjective especially is a really great touch of manipulation. Because what semi-decent person doesn’t want to think of himself or herself as honest?
Adjectives and adverbs are great tools to employ when you want an emotional response, which – again – isn’t always a bad thing.
But when you’re running on nothing more than emotion and you don’t care to run on anything more than emotion?
Well then, accept no substitutes.
Though that's hardly the only trick in the bad-writing book. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this helpful guide next week – “How to Be a Dishonest Writer: The Second Step.”