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Are bad examples good?

Learn from mistakes

Theory has its place, but an example often makes learning something much easier. In many areas, an example of a mistake or poor quality is an even more effective teacher than examples of the correct technique.

Using examples to teach

For instance, I can tell you it is best to use the fewest words possible to give a message and to avoid repeating a word.

Or I can give an example: Leave as long as possible before proof reading your writing.

Or I can show you a bad example:ย Another effective way to increase the possibility of increasing your link building purposes… Then explain the issues with it and write it well: Another effective way of potentially increasing your incoming links…

Does it work for you?

Do you like seeing poor examples of something as a means of learning to avoid those same mistakes yourself?

I have put some bad writing examples in my blog (and the one above is a real example from a blog post I read) and always include one in my newsletter.

The bad examples I use are real but I never identify who wrote them – if you searched hard enough you might figure it out, but I respect that the writers didn’t mean to provide us with bad examples and use discretion ๐Ÿ™‚

I think it is an effective way of showing how to write well – but do you find it useful? Would you like to see more bad examples I spot to help you improve your writing?

11 Responses to Are bad examples good?

  • onlinebusinessgal says:

    I think it is correct that providing bad examples can actually be more effective at teaching someone what they are doing wrong or what NOT to do. Sometimes, people make mistakes without even realizing what they have done wrong. A poor example might be just what they need to recognize their own mistake.

  • anotherspaceman says:

    I’d say bad examples are definitely the most useful.

    Ok, second most useful, but the old adage of “learning by your mistakes” is a valuable one.
    It’s perfectly possible to just luck out and do the right thing, but it’s only from errors you can gauge just where you have to be careful, and what you have to look out for.

    I own a book called “How NOT to write a screenplay” which, written by someone who has read a lot of screenplays, covers in detail all the common and then not so common mistakes.

    Going on the assumption that “editor knows best” (and who am I to argue), knowing what they’re looking out for can only benefit contributors, and only improve overall article quality ๐Ÿ™‚

    • tashword says:

      Very interesting that your screenplay book is written by a reader of screenplays rather than a writer, but it’s a good point anotherspaceman – editors become experts in what not to do. I know I can look through a piece of writing and the mistakes jump out at me so I often fix those before I read the entire piece for editing.

      • anotherspaceman says:

        I believe he is also a writer – the second half of the book is what TO put into a screenplay.
        But this is written with the disclosure that his advice here is subjective.
        Bad grammar is a definite, a compelling character is a matter of opinion!

        I believe the message is the same as with your question of bad examples – it won’t make you a more creative writer, but it will help everyone achieve a basic level of competence.

      • tashword says:

        Thanks for clearing that up ๐Ÿ™‚ Very true that what each of us thinks makes a compelling character or plot will vary!

        You can learn the basics but I agree that some aspects come naturally or they don’t, such as being creative enough to come up with a good story.

  • Anna T says:

    I would be lying if I said I had not learned from the mistakes of others while blogging! And I have also learned a lot from my own errors as well.

    To get where you want to be, you absolutely must learn from trial and error. No one is gong to do everything perfectly the first time, and once you can accept that and not beat yourself up over your own mistakes, you’re on the path to success.

    • tashword says:

      I saw a quote this morning that said “The person who doesn’t make many mistakes is not very busy”

      I prefer learning from others’ mistakes, lol, but learning form your own is often more powerful.

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  • Ron Denholm says:

    BAD examples are perfect to show the benefit of good examples. Immerse the reader in both worlds, then the choice is easy. I use pre and post examples all the time. You can see them all on Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/RonaldDenholm

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