Showing posts from March, 2020

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.

The Parts of Speech—An Overview

Before I set out to painstakingly write a post for each part of speech (and believe me, it's going to hurt me more than it's going to hurt you), I thought I'd perhaps provide a summary, including my always-unique perspective, of the parts of speech.

I'm doing this because I'm convinced that the parts of speech are the only thing some English teachers actually retained from their college studies. Because of this, the parts of speech seem to be taught with the same rote fascination that we use to memorize the periodic table and subway train numbers. I'm not saying it's as painful as letting a 6'6", three-hundred-pound Samoan (shout out Tulsi!) punch you in the 'nads, but I'd probably flip a coin.

A quick analysis of what matters, and more important, what you can ignore, not only cuts through the bullshit and mystery but also means I don't have to write as much, which is a win–win as far as I'm concerned.

Unintentionally Fake News

Sometimes in the Title, Sometimes in the Content, but Always Educational
Exhibit 1. A drummer and the other members of a rock band were displeased by this report. The reporter's assumption, though wrong, does seem the most statistically probable. That the band is a Christian rock band might have had something to do with why the band reacted more vigorously than one might expect:

How Changes in Writing Style Wreak Havoc with Press Releases

Why Choices Concerning Brevity and Punctuation Are Not Simply Style Decisions
Over the last few years (and traditionally in higher-end literature), it's become somewhat common to use a comma in place of and at times. One might write, "The man, a character who was sturdy, full of life, ran toward the forest."

No argument from me. Whether to use and depends on style and whether the prose makes sense to readers. But there's a reason for not using a comma in place of and on a regular basis—commas are used for certain phrases in English that can create a dual meaning that does confuse readers, especially when striving to reduce character count. Case in point: