Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am looking for a word to reflect what a novice author would use to describe his own writing (somewhat derogatorily). My first thought was drivel.

share|improve this question
5  
Did you mean drivel? –  simchona Sep 23 '13 at 2:18
    
I think I did. Although that rings closer to "silly" than "bad quality". Any other ideas? –  nachocab Sep 23 '13 at 2:25
5  
'Silly' would be 'bad quality'. But you haven't explained whether you want a term for bad handwriting or bad authorship (hence the different answers below). –  Edwin Ashworth Sep 23 '13 at 6:38
    
You should edit your question, and change dribble to drivel. You'll probably get more answers as a result. –  Mari-Lou A Sep 23 '13 at 17:18
    
Thanks for all the comments in this answer. They've helped me form a clearer picture about how this online community works. –  nachocab Sep 24 '13 at 15:56
add comment

6 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Hack (hackwork), drek, schlock, pulp, sludge (only because fiction magazine editors call the mass of submissions that come over the transom the "sludge pile").

share|improve this answer
add comment

Perhaps the word you are looking for is scrawl

v.tr. To write hastily or illegibly.

v.intr. To write in a sprawling, irregular manner.

n.

  1. Irregular, often illegible handwriting.
  2. Something, such as a note, written hastily or illegibly.
share|improve this answer
add comment

scribble

His awful writing is nothing but scribbles.

doodle

And yet, the film works in spite of all its cute writerly and aesthetic doodling.

The examples are googlable.

share|improve this answer
    
My disagreement here is that these are examples of a critic's creative literary license in colorfully, somewhat playfully, chastising the writer's work. I don't take them as substantive synonyms for "bad writing" that would stand on their own outside the context of their respective critiques. –  John M. Landsberg Sep 24 '13 at 4:22
    
@JohnM.Landsberg I have no quibble with your opinion that these are not substantive synonyms for bad writing, because we share that opinion. But I do hope you're not disagreeing with my including them here. I wasn't going by the title of this q, but by what OP had written: "I'm thinking dribble." I thought scribble and doodle would be right on par with dribble. I was really only trying to be helpful to him; he obviously needed a derrogatory word. Also, I don't think my suggestions are, for most uses, as good as yours (one of those upvotes was mine).But what if someone just needs sth different? –  Talia Ford Sep 24 '13 at 5:04
1  
Plus, they follow the same phonological shtik: dribble shlock sludge doodle scribble. Their meaning is almost less important than their onomatopoeic potential (when that's what an author wants to go for). –  Talia Ford Sep 24 '13 at 5:07
    
In fact you're quite correct, and I didn't intend "disagreement" to be a harsh assessment. Nor did I downvote, because I don't disagree with you including them here. Your thinking is in line with mine. And by the way, I'll take this opportunity to mention I've taken note of your other answers, which are remarkable, to say the least. I would be more than fascinated to see what your profile would say, if you were to fill it in! –  John M. Landsberg Sep 24 '13 at 5:10
add comment

It's called cacography.

defined as:

bad handwriting; poor penmanship.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Amateurish writing is used to describe a style of writing that is poor.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I'd call bad writing trash or garbage.

Not exactly relevant to your question though fits the topic: in Russian we call bad writing макулатура (wastepaper).

share|improve this answer
    
In one English article, I saw the word maculature being used to describe bad writing. It should be of no surprise that English has the word; macula is Latin for stain. –  Talia Ford Sep 23 '13 at 5:38
    
Thank you, @Talia, I was wondering whether this word is used the same way in English. –  Mykola Sep 23 '13 at 6:49
    
According to Webster's, it's not: Maculature Mac"u*la*ture\, n. Blotting paper. [Obs.] See the Ngram at books.google.com/ngrams/… to decide on whether 'this word is [really] used the same way in English'. –  Edwin Ashworth Sep 23 '13 at 6:53
    
I see your point, @Edwin. Exactly this definition one will find in any academic Russian dictionary—blotting paper, that is. ...Which doesn't stop anyone from using the word meaning blotting paper figuratively to describe a piece of bad writing. –  Mykola Sep 23 '13 at 7:11
    
@EdwinAshworth Ngram doesn't show it, but the secondary, figurative, derrogatory meaning of maculature does exist in English. The article I've read is not the only example of such use, here's a few more: –  Talia Ford Sep 23 '13 at 8:54
show 3 more comments

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.