Monday, April 30, 2012

Words: Got, Stuff, Things

Got is kind of a catch-all verb that has a ton of meanings. Use one of the other ones or it might be counted wrong for lack of clarity, vagueness, or B.S., which in my class means be specific.

Things and Stuff.
These are too vague. B.S., be specific. The problem here is that student writers oftentimes use these words when they and we as readers KNOW what they are. In other words these words are most effectively used when we DON'T know what they are, or when we are being specifically vague on purpose sometimes for style. Following are some great examples:

In Tim O'Brien's short story "The Things They Carried," soldiers carry both physical and psychological baggage, which is why he carefully chose this word for his title.

In H.P. Lovecraft's "The Thing on the Doorstep," or in many of his other stories, or in many of the stories derived from his work, we don't know what the heck it is on said doorstep, since his monsters are usually otherworldly, planet-wise and dimension-wise.

Consider the popular phrase "The stuff that dreams are made of." Said stuff could be anything. It depends on your perspective and character. We hear this in movies all the time and it might be referring to anything--drugs, groupies, money.

Other similar examples include movie titles like The Thing From Another Planet, The Thing, The Stuff, and characters, like the Thing from the Fantastic Four or Thing from the Addams Family.

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