IN EVERY ONE OF these articles, it’s clear the writer is passionate about an issue and hopes to use his or her writing to raise awareness and inspire action. But often, these submissions are rejected because the writer is afflicted with “plight syndrome,” a style of writing that relies upon the gross manipulation of the reader’s opinions and emotions.
The narrative device characteristic of plight syndrome is melodramatic hyperbole. Consider these two examples:
1. In an article about animal abuse: “The people running the shelter are… doing as much as they can to help these forgotten and discarded babies [who are killed by the mayor,] the man everyone knows is responsible for executing the rash of cruel poisonings on the animals of the city.”
2. In a book about poverty among Indian children: “There is a holocaust quietly happening among India’s children.”