Nine Circles of Writing Hell

9-circles-of-writing-hell“Today I don my Debbie Downer hat to discuss the circles of Writing Hell. Not surprising, the circle is an apt descriptor of the writing process because our thoughts go ’round and ’round…and ’round some more. The bad news: There is no escape for writers. The good news: There is no escape for writers.” — L.Z. Marie, L.Z. Marie, June 13, 2015

Read the full article here.

“Lines of Fire: Dante’s Vision of Hell still has an Afterlife”

“The world has a handful of supreme poets. Homer, Shakespeare and Goethe are up there. I’m sure you have your own suggestions. All of these writers – even Homer, with his Trojan war epic The Iliad – can be made contemporary to us, made to approximate our world-view. Yet the greatest and most universal poet of all is the least ‘modern’ and at times the most obscure. He is Dante Alighieri.

“The world-view Dante unfolds in mesmerizing images in the three books of his Divine Comedy – Hell, Purgatory and Paradise – is truly medieval. No wonder: he lived most of his life in the 13th century before completing his masterpiece in the early 14th. But it is the relentless Gothic-style Christianity of Dante’s vision that makes it so unnerving: the profound sense of sin behind his biting portraits of the damned in Hell, and the equally absolute faith in a machine-accurate divine justice the poet finally glimpses in Paradise. The Divine Comedy is a dogmatic, cruel work that haunts the imagination like no other. Paradoxically, no ‘modern’ poet has been so frequently illustrated by modern artists; only Byron excites comparable interest. [. . .]

“My own first experience of Dante was a translation of just one part of the Inferno by Seamus Heaney. Ugolino is in Heaney’s collection Field Work, which is a moving response to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Dante’s tale of Ugolino, who was cruelly treated and took bitter revenge in eternity, fits into the landscape of reprisal Heaney depicts. In other words, one reason for Dante’s enduring power is that we have not really left the middle ages. Vendetta still rules. Entire foreign policies, not to mention civil wars and terror campaigns, are based on ideas of revenge and polarities of good and evil just as primitive as anything in Dante.

“Another reason the great Italian challenges us is that he proposes a morally absolute vision of life that cuts through modern relativism like a knight’s broadsword. So the world is ambiguous and our own actions impossible to morally judge? Dante menaces us with the alternative possibility that every act is scrutinized, that every moment of our lives is weighed in the balance.” [. . .]    –Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, May 5, 2011.

The Nine Circles of Writing Hell

“With apologies to Dante Alighieri…

“We have all probably started ill-fated novels that, shall we say, did not go where we wanted them to go. For one reason or another, either our will or our preparation or the idea failed us, and sure enough, they ended up in novel hell.

“Based on the Nine Circles of Hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy, here are the nine circles of writing hell.

“Save your novel from these sins, my fellow writers! Repent before it is too late!” [. . .]    –Nathan Bransford, on his blog, November 23, 2010

Dante’s Inferno as written by Dr. Seuss (Reddit Writing Prompt)

In March 2018 Reddit user The2500 posted the following Writing Prompt: “Dante’s Inferno as written by Dr. Seuss.” Here is a selection from the first entry:

And gave poor Dante a very big fright

And scared, Dante was, in the woods called sin

Dr-Seuss-Cat-in-the-hat-Dantes-Inferno-Reddit-Writing-PromptsFret not, Virgil said, and gave him his hand.

‘For together we must travel throughout the land!

Through Hell and Eden, Purgatory and all!’

Dante gasped, ‘But why upon me must this fate befall?

Oh me, oh my, I think I might cry!’

Virgil smiled and shook his head.

‘O ’tis Beatrice’s call,’ he plainly said.

‘Beatrice?’

‘Oh yes! She wishes your spirit to be put to the test.’

Dante jumped, he leaped, he punched the sky.

‘Joy upon joys! I’ve been graced. I’m so happy, I think I might die!’

Virgil grabbed him, ‘Then let us make haste, this duo of you and I.’

And so they walked, en route to limbo.

They braced and prepared to go low. Low upon lows, through Hell and their foes.”

— “Dante’s Inferno As Written By Dr. Seuss” on Reddit.com

Contributed by Jessica Beasley (Florida State University ’18)

Linguistic Transgression Hell

 

First Circle (Limbo):
Autocorrect

Here wander the otherwise virtuous souls who were forced into grievous errors by autocorrect programs. They sit in silent masturbation, only rising once every hour to chant eerie koans such as “ducking auto cat rectal.”

Second Circle:
The Serial Comma

One half of this circle is populated by souls who are cursed to make arguments that nobody cares about except their own mothers, howling gorgons and the infernal mistresses of hell. The other half are cursed to make arguments that nobody cares about except their own mothers, howling gorgons, and the infernal mistresses of hell. The difference between these two situations seems to matter a lot to both halves. Neither side will listen to you when you suggest that they could avoid this level entirely.

Third Circle:
Unnecessary Use of Quote Marks

They may think they’re getting off the “hook,” but in this level quote marks are used as cavalierly as these souls used them in life. Does “groin-dissolving” in quotes indicate that your treatment is not really groin-dissolving, or are the quotes merely being used in the place of italics, you’ll wonder? More importantly, is the “seafood” buffet on “Sundays” “fresh” and “free”?

Fourth Circle:
Hated Abbreviations

ICYMI, this level is for people who use OPAs (off-putting abbreviations) to show off their supposed hipness and/or needlessly confuse others. New abbreviations are constantly being invented and CASJ dropped into conversation. The souls are expected to KTOS (know them or suffer). Good luck with your KLRDT (Keats-like rapidly degenerative tuberculosis) as you’re also subjected to MMMTDs (massively multi-personal medieval torture devices). Are you doing OK? No. You’re doing AWACBE (as well as can be expected), given the MNNTKUWNVECD (mind numbing need to keep up with non-vocabulary-extending cultural dross). In short (but is it really?), it’s annoying AF.

Fifth Circle:
Meaningless Truisms

This level is what it is. You be you.*

*Naturally, forced to embrace reality and themselves exactly as they are, souls on this level experience extremely high levels of depression, even for hell.

Sixth Circle:
Misused Apostrophes

Most souls on this level are cursed to endlessly hunt for things that they mistakenly stated belonged to someone or something. Where is Kid’s party? What about Nacho’s $5.75? This entire level has lost it’s way.

Seventh Circle:
Using Emojis To Sum Up Feelings or Events
That Are Way Too Complicated for Emojis To Sum Up

So you thought you were being “economical” and “Hemingwayesque” by leaving others wondering what the shit you meant by your cryptic emojis? You’re now cursed to be eternally robbed of resolution. The results of your recent chlamydia screening? 😶 And what was that “seafood” you had in the third circle? 🦄

Eighth Circle:
Needless Correctors

The souls in this circle often toured the other circles, mocking the poor souls who suffered there for their poor command of the English language. Little did they know that one of the worst circles was reserved for them and their grating tendency to overcorrect English usage at every opportunity. These are the people who can’t watch an episode of Star Trek without pointing out that “to boldly go” splits the infinitive, who cause you to cringe the instant after you say “I don’t know which restaurant we’re going to.” They are forced to compose tweets for President Trump. The punishment for writing any tweet that is even close to grammatically correct is needless physical corrections to the offender’s body. Very physical and very needless.

Ninth Circle:
Literally, the Ninth Circle

It is literally the worst circle ever.

–John Rauschenberg, McSweeny’s Internet Tendency, November 20, 2017

Contributed by David Israel