In Ur Storiez, Fixin Ur Gramer

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Punctuators Grammar Workshop


August 21st, 2007


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I've recreated the community on IJ, though I'll be leaving the LJ version in place.

Please feel free to post your questions and samples here, or share anything helpful or interesting to the grammar-conscious writer. I'll start us off by sharing one of my favourite links: The Turkey City Lexicon This is a helpful list of common problems in fantasy and science fiction, including:

  • Countersinking: A form of expositional redundancy in which the action clearly implied in dialogue is made explicit. "'Let's get out of here,' he said, urging her to leave."

  • You Can't Fire Me, I Quit: An attempt to diffuse the reader's incredulity with a pre-emptive strike -- as if by anticipating the reader's objections, the author had somehow answered them. "I would never have believed it, if I hadn't seen it myself!" "It was one of those amazing coincidences that can only take place in real life!" "It's a one-in-a-million chance, but it's so crazy it just might work!" Surprisingly common, especially in SF. (Attr. John Kessel)

  • "As You Know Bob": A pernicious form of info-dump through dialogue, in which characters tell each other things they already know, for the sake of getting the reader up-to-speed. This very common technique is also known as "Rod and Don dialogue" (attr. Damon Knight) or "maid and butler dialogue" (attr Algis Budrys).

  • Squid in the Mouth: The failure of an author to realize that his/her own weird assumptions and personal in-jokes are simply not shared by the world-at-large. Instead of applauding the wit or insight of the author's remarks, the world-at-large will stare in vague shock and alarm at such a writer, as if he or she had a live squid in the mouth.
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