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Do Writers Bug You?

CoolSciFi links to an article at Holt Uncensored that lists Ten Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do). Without reiterating it here, I do notice when writers make some of these mistakes and sometimes it just bugs me.

Asimov had the crutch prase “to be sure” which, as much as I love his work, used to annoy the heck out of me. Some writers (I cannot recall which ones) occasionally have their characters spew phony dialogue purely for the sake of the reader’s benefit (obvious handholding). A better example of the “Lists” offense than cited in the article comes from Pel Torro. It’s worth repeating here – it’s so darned funny.

“The things were odd, weird, grotesque. There was something horribly uncustomary and unwonted about them. There were completely unfamiliar. Their appearance was outlandish and extraordinary. There was something quite phenomenal about them. They were supernormal; they were unparalleled; they were unexampled. The shape of the aliens was singular in every sense. They were curious, odd, queer, peculiar and fantastic, and yet when every adjective had been used on them, when every preternatural epithet had been applied to their aberrant and freakish appearance, when everything that could be said about such eccentric, exceptional, anomalous creatures had been said, they still remained indescribable in any concrete terms.”

Somebody call the Thesaurus Police!

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

1 Comment on Do Writers Bug You?

  1. Every writer has Elements of Style on their shelf, but apparently none ever read it.

    On Writing Well by William Zinsser is another book that writers should read.

    Because I grew up in Minnesota, I’ve had to work hard to ditch the dialectical qualifiers: Kinda, sorta, ya know, thinkin about [insert active verb], maybe, and many others.

    Up there, it’s not suprising to here a sentence like “I was kinda sorta thinkin’ about getting myself a new fishing pole, ya know?”

    Either you’re getting a new fishing pole, or you aren’t. Ya know? šŸ™‚

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