Writing Glitch 880

Today’s glitch:

Change the comma after desert to a period and add a space after the ellipsis (yay, a real ellipsis, used correctly for a pause where it makes sense to have one!) before white.

Got that? Okay, now the punctuation is correct, and we can address the ridiculous notion that deserts don’t have weather.

What deserts don’t have much of is precipitation; minimal precipitation is what defines a place as a desert. Not all weather is precipitation. (Ever heard of a desert that didn’t have wind? Yeah, I didn’t think so…) For that matter, this example implies that deserts are all hot. Someday I may write another bloggish rant about idjits who assume that even semi-deserts are hot year-round, which is why we can’t have nice things adequate winter coats in the clothing stores around here: some idjit in Arkansas decided that New Mexicans don’t need winter coats because New Mexico is somewhat desert-like (in some parts of the state), which means it’s always hot here, even in late December/early January when the temperature plunges thirty-five or so degrees below freezing for a couple of weeks.

Unless you want a character to come across as ignorant, don’t have them make statements such as in the example’s original version.

“It’s so… white.”

“It’s snow.”

“I grew up in the desert. I don’t know what precipitation is like, let alone snow.”


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Writing Glitch 879

Today’s glitch:

Perhaps my clone-sibling (he has a master’s degree in archaeology, by the way) has been spending too much time around his Creatively Anarchonistic friends, because when I see the words rampaging polar bear, I think of a rampant polar bear, as in rampant, a bear argent.

Anyway, there’s usually no need to shoot a dead polar bear, nor do dead bears rampage. No, not even zombie bears, because zombie bears are kinda slow, as you may have noticed.

Word order matters.

Archaeologist shoots rampaging polar bear dead.

You don’t really need dead in there at all, but if you want to make sure readers know the bear is now for-real dead instead of just possibly undead, change the sentence to Archaeologist shoots and kills rampaging polar bear.



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Writing Glitch 878

Today’s glitch:

In my opinion, psychology doesn’t have any business saying anything about how a person ought to sit.

The correct verb is not slough, which means either a swamp or a situation where things are slow-moving or lack progress. (See how both definitions are for nouns, not verbs? Even the verb forms mean something similar: to slough may mean to move slowly, as through a swamp.) It is possible that the error was made due to the use of slump sometimes used for the second definition, but that doesn’t mean the substitution can run either way, with slough can be used to indicate someone sitting all droopy and half falling over in their chair. It is also possible that the writer confused slough with slouch. However, the sitting “at an angle of 135 degrees” in this example is not slumping or slouching; it’s sitting with the back straight but reclined, and the legs bent slightly at the knees, which causes the legs, along with the whole back, to take the pressure instead of it all being focused on the lower end of the spine.¬†Yes, sitting in that posture is better than sitting upright in a chair, but sitting upright in a chair is still better than actually slumping/slouching in that same chair.

Replace slough with recline. Then change 135 to one hundred thirty-five. (Notice that it isn’t one hundred and thirty-five, which is written in numerals as 100.35. Also notice that one hundred isn’t hyphenated!)

Sitting upright is bad for your back. You should recline at an angle of one hundred thirty-five degrees.


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Writing Glitch 877

Today’s glitch:

Add a comma after sheep, because the sentence is compound.

Add that after so many. (If you want to be more informal, you can add a comma after so many instead.)

Why is she trying to seem to keep track of the sheep? Does she want to keep track of them or merely give the appearance of doing so? I strongly recommend deleting seem from the sentence.

She was supposed to be watching the sheep, but there were so many of them that she couldn’t keep track of them all.


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Writing Glitch 876

Today’s second glitch:

When a part of a sentence is separated out with commas as in this example, it means that part between the commas is optional, something that adds extra information but isn’t essential for meaning: Animals can naturally explode.

Delete those commas, though, and the sentence says that some animals — whales and toads are examples — can explode. Makes more sense, doesn’t it?

I recommend repositioning the adverb so it’s at the end of the sentence, because there’s a tiny nuance of meaning that may come across wrong if you keep naturally before explode. (Consider Naturally animals such as whales and toads can explode, or Animals such as whales and toads, naturally, can explode. Word placement matters.)

Animals such as whales and toads can explode naturally.

(In the “right” atmospheric conditions, humans can explode, too. I don’t recommend it.)



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Writing Glitch 875

Today’s first glitch:

Proper names of places must be capitalized: Mount Everest.

Every corpse on Mount Everest was once an extremely motivated person.

I am rather fond of this anti-motivation meme as a counter to the (illogical and sometimes harmful), “You can do anything if you try hard enough.”




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Writing Glitch 874

Today’s second glitch:

Um… What?

If it’s a kingdom, the only options for type of government are the variations on kingdoms: Is it a constitutional monarchy, or does the ruler have absolute power? No kingdom can be a republic, because if it’s a republic, it’s not ruled by a king. D’uh.

There is no grammatical or punctuation error in this example, just a serious glitch in vocabulary/logic. (Editors deal with that, too.)

Change kingdom to country, and everything is fine.

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