The Use and Misuse of Singular “They/Their”

IntroGreetings and salutations, Buckeroos!Today’s missive includes some bonus lessons in celebration of the worldwide lockdown and the quite horrifying proposition that you will be unable to find anything nearly as exciting to read as my angelic prose. What can I say? I’m a giver:
Bonus Lesson #1: You should only capitalize proper nouns (mostly), but one type of proper noun is a common noun substituted for a name—e.g. “OK, Mom.” Because you are so “special,” I’ve chosen, in my inimitable style, to capitalize “Buckeroos.”Bonus Lesson #2: Do not be unnecessarily redundant, even intentionally, for people will not know and will then think you a dummy.Before I get into today’s post, I’d like to make one note. This discussion is only about the use of plural neutral pronouns in reference to traditional male/female singular subjects. This post does not discuss the use of gender-neutral terms for those who identify as nonbinary in varying degrees, and the many derivations that could occur as a …

Character Descriptions That Matter

How much detail to give a character's description is often hotly debated, with two primary schools of thought:
1. Include as much detail as possible about each character in order to let the reader know what the character looks like and also to provide additional imagery. It's good to include all five senses in your descriptions.
2. Only include what is absolutely necessary in order to move the story forward. Assume readers will fill in other details with their own imaginations. Descriptions should be built into the story and not just a date dump - e.g., a whole narrative paragraph describing a character but with no context.
The images are search results for the word 'hair' in a book by bestselling author Barry Eisler (DETACHMENT). Barry is a great technical writer. He also uses a little more description than I like.

However, note that every time Barry uses the word 'hair' he builds it into the rest of the content. Also note that uses 'hair' was almost …

*On the Economy of Words* (another installment in the Buckaroo Saga)

The single greatest transgression committed by teachers (besides fucking them) is telling students that English comprises eight parts of speech. So wrong. English has *two* parts of speech and *six* little helpers (interjections are bullshit, but that's a minor point). Perhaps if people realized this, they wouldn't engage in so much pointless drivel: twisted old trees covered with brown bark, tall skyscrapers, wrinkled old people, blue skies, dark nights (OK, maybe that one on a new moon).

Here's a little secret, Buckeroos. Follow me into the chamber where we make the sausage (it's OK, it's just a little prick). Come closer, let me whisper in your cute little mouselike ears (please remember—no hyphen in "mouselike"): *Every word counts. Every word matters. And every time you add a word, you dilute all the others*. See that? My extra "the" (for example) just diluted the other words in that sentence.

Think of it this way. Let's say I am writin…

A Brief Aside (the '19' Ate My Bray-EEN!) to Avoid Writing a More Difficult Post

Being Famous Won't Always Save You from the Reaper

Those who know me well know that I don't shy away from criticism. I mean criticizing others; what sort of masochist welcomes criticism from others? 😉 Certainly not me, or so I've heard before blocking such critics before they unfairly drip their bloody tears upon the fabric of my extraordinary life.
OK, where was I? Right. Criticism. The bigger the fish, the bigger the firefry Frey. In this case, James Frey. I dislike James Frey's writing so much that I actually contemplated intentionally misspelling his name just to make it harder to find him. But that's like trying to keep a coke addict from finding a dealer—ain't gonna happen. But I'll be damned if I'm going to supply a link to that freak; a music video is better:

And on and on. But truly, Frey is small fry. Let's go bigger—a sacred cow, as it were—the only difference being that I'm fairly certain that a blind, syphilitic cow with palsy coul…

Nouns and Pronouns in the Age of #WeAllGonnaDie!!! (Part 1 of 2)


Let’s talk a bit about nouns and pronouns, shall we? Hold tight, because much of this post will be in reverse order (yeah, I didn’t know what meant either; you’ll see soon enough).

Firstly, I’m grouping these little buggers together because pronouns are basically just reflections of nouns. By that, I mean simply that pronouns are replacements, placeholders if you will, for nouns in their longer (and sometimes quite annoying) forms.