I’m afraid I have two questions!
Firstly is the practice of writing articles just for the purpose of a back link frowned upon by google at all?
Secondly how do you control what google shows as the snippet? Google ignores my meta tag description request for the blurb I want to show!
I'm afraid I have two answers...
Yes, Google definitely isn't a fan of article creation just for link creation. This was made very evident in the Panda update that happened towards the beginning of the year. A number of the low value article websites got dinged big time. Many of them fell off the first few pages. So while writing articles just to get links is absolutely frowned upon.
The flip side is that, if you are writing content that people find valuable, and is quality information, you can still be rewarded very well. I would just focus on providing value if you plan on writing something. And stay away from the eHows, eZine, Squidoos, etc. My aim would be to find sites that you could possibly get targeted traffic in addition to a good link.
The second question is super easy. Use the Yoast SEO plugin. And when you write a blog Post or Page in WordPress, you'll see an area underneath the content writing area to fill in SEO Title, and Description. Just fill in your description there. It tells you how many words/characters you can use and counts down as you type.