Writing Glitch 936

Today’s glitch:

An ellipsis has three dots! Never just two! (And never five or eight or however many you think looks the prettiest or the most “avant-garde.” *rolls eyes*)

Don’t capitalize universe (either time).

Capitalize Galaxy after Andromeda. (You’re right: you shouldn’t capitalize galaxy when it appears by itself. However, in this context, it’s part of a proper name.)

You probably ought to spell out kilometer (both times).

As 2017 ended…

150 billion stars formed in the universe.

The Andromeda Galaxy moved 3.5 billion kilometers closer to us.

The universe expanded by more than 60 trillion kilometers.

You can also spell out one hundred fifty, three-point-five, and sixty rather than using the numerals.

 

 

 

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Sometimes, he finds the writing he’d thought was lost forever… in his blog.

Now I feel really embarrassed.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out what happened to one of my fragments on fiction that I know I typed up and saved… somewhere.

As it turns out, it is also the majority of my blog post titled “Sometimes he shares fragments of story.” While I’ve been searching for the thing, lots of other people have been reading it each week.

Argh.

I only discovered this fact because I thought, What is this ‘fragment of story’ post that continues to get hits despite being more than a year and a half old? and then went and read it myself this morning. 

I needed to re-read this, because of how it’s connected to my own current writing projects. Also, there’s a scene with Alan Patterson (one of the characters in the early bits of the aforementioned fragments) in the novel Paul is almost finished writing the first draft of, and of course Geoffrey, the POV character in these fragments, is a fairly major supporting character in The Sleeping and the Dead.

And all those pieces of backstory were right here on my blog the whole time…

(Lesson for fellow writers: Save everything. And try to remember where you put it. 🙂 )

 

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…And now for a FAQ post.

“Why so many ‘Writing Glitch’ posts about science lately, Weaver?”

Because that’s what I found the last time I went to Pinterest and “raided” a few boards for examples. (One of my own boards on Pinterest is titled “Science for Fiction Writers” — things I think may be of use to authors who need a bit of scientific accuracy in their “calculated lies” or who are just looking for cool science ideas to base stories on — so I follow several science boards there to find new material. This means I sometimes see science-themed memes that are… wonky.)

Besides, I specialize in editing science fiction, which means yes, I do know a thing or two about science as well as about fiction.

“But didn’t you say your university degree is in art, not science?”

If you think that’s a problem, why are you taking my advice about grammar? I don’t have a degree in that, either.

I’ll repeat it once more (“louder for the people in the back,” as it were): There is no rule of psychology, neurology, real common sense, or anything else that says people can have knowledge only of things they studied formally in school. There is no rule that says a person who’s really good in one field cannot also have fairly high competence in another that isn’t even related to the first. (First screen-fiction quote that comes to mind: “What kind of archaeologist carries a gun?”) If this is too outside your usual worldview for you to be comfortable with, think of some people as having “specialized” in being generalists.

“But aren’t you, y’know… on the spectrum? You have Autism Spectrum Disorder, so how can you go around teaching regular people about how to use words to write good stories?”

Oh, boy… (Thanks, though, for reminding me that I want to write a science-metaphor-intense post about the meaning of the word disorder, chaos theory, and how something may appear to be “disordered” just because it’s too complex to be understood at a glance.) Yes, I’m autistic. You don’t have to whisper; I only take offense at someone mentioning that when they’re using it to “prove” that I must be incapable of doing something they just saw me do. I keep mentioning it because of the pervasive notion that autism = can’t use words. See me using words better than most people can? Of course you do. Logically, that has to mean that I, “despite” having this “less-than” brain, must be able to use words. A lot of people also think that autism = inability to use or even understand non-literal language, right? Did ya see my aside in this paragraph about using a metaphor about chaos theory? ‘Nuff said.

“Why are you such a typical ‘Angry Aspie’?”

If people made stupid assumptions about all aspects of your personality, cognitive ability, etc., based solely on one fact they knew about you, and those assumptions were almost entirely negative, you’d be angry sometimes, too. (Willful ignorance on any topic makes me angry.) For that matter, I can’t see much of “typical Aspie” traits in myself, even going by how actually autistic people describe it. (I think more of our “tribe” need to remember what we keep telling regular people: “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” Even my “clone-sibling” and I aren’t the same in how our neurology expresses, and we have the same DNA! If someone on the spectrum says, “I have trouble reading facial expressions, and I can’t understand sarcasm,” I believe them completely, because each person is the expert on their own experiences. If someone on the spectrum says, “We all have trouble reading facial expressions or using sarcasm,” obviously they’re incorrect.) If you think I’m just like every other person with this neurology, you don’t know anything about me or them.

“Why didn’t you get a degree in English, if you want to be an editor?”

Kids, I am an editor; never doubt that. Helped put my clone-sibling through college with the money I earn from this kind of work, so yeah, it’s real.

When I was a university student, sometimes I’d be asked ‘If you want to be a writer, why aren’t you an English major?’ My reply at the time was always some variation on, ‘Because knowing how to analyse Shakespeare and Hemingway doesn’t tell you how to write like them, much less how to write like yourself.’ (I usually didn’t mention that I write science fiction, because there were two or three professors in the English department at that university who were rabidly against science fiction: said it was evil because it’s “male.” Yes, it’s a fact: All science fiction manuscripts must be typed in first draft using one’s male appendage. *rolls eyes* Okay, I admit I borrowed that bit of sarcasm from a minor character in a Barbara Hambly novel who responded to the question, ‘Can women even be scribes?” by saying, ‘Of course. It’s not as if they write with their… er, whiskers.’) Having a degree in English may help someone be a developmental editor, but it’s useless for the small-detail stuff like sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, word choice… They don’t teach that at university; they don’t even encourage it, these days.

 

 

 

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Writing Glitch 935

Today’s glitch:

Don’t capitalize sun. (Its proper name is Sol, from which we get solar system — all others are technically stellar systems — and sun is the common noun.)

You can keep the numerals if you want — this example may count as science writing — or you can change the first one to one hundred seventy-four trillion. (Don’t write it as one hundred and seventy-four, because that means 100.74, and don’t hyphenate trillion into the rest.)

Add a comma after mass.

Change the ampersand (that’s the & thing) to and.

Delete the comma after hence.

You can change 1.5 cm to one and a half (or one-point-five) centimeters (or centimetres — the writer of this example obviously prefers UK English spellings, and centimetre goes with tonne instead of ton) if you like.

The sun lost one hundred seventy-four trillion tonnes of mass, and hence the Earth’s orbit increased by one-point-five centimetres.

 

 

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It Bears Repeating…

It’s been one of those days, so I thought I’d remind a few people of something important…

Words on image read, “I am not here, sir, to remedy your zoological ignorance.” Also included are silhouettes of a sword and a Frumious Bandersnatch.

As someone else said, “I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.”

Yeah, I often attempt to ‘remedy zoological ignorance’ anyway. I can’t help it. If I see someone struggling because they’re operating with false, inaccurate, or missing information, I want to help them. (Thus do I exhibit both my “lack of empathy” and my “narrow range of interests/knowledge,” right?) This isn’t about ‘proving that I’m always right,’ making someone else feel stupid, or any of the other things certain “experts” insist must be my entire motivation for sharing my knowledge with other people. (Um… You’re projecting, doc. Maybe you oughta stop that.)

Mostly, though, I wish people would make some attempt to find things out for themselves, or at least make an attempt to look at/listen to the information they’ve asked for when someone goes through the trouble of finding it for them and just handing it to them. “I never use the internet,” says the kid who is always checking his email or Twitter or Facebook; Grace jokes that he must have his phone fused to his hand, because he never puts it down or even stops looking at it while supposedly having a conversation with someone who’s right there in front of him. “I never use the internet, so I can’t use Google to find the stuff I want to know, and I don’t care that you gave me the three search terms guaranteed to get me the information, because that’s tooooooo haaaaarrrrrd. Just tell me. Oh, you already told me five times just today, but I wasn’t listening. I won’t listen the next time, either. You’d better stop telling me to pay attention — I know you’re just saying that to make me feeeeeeeeel baaaaaad.”

One thing I have to give that kid credit for: He makes me feel a lot less regretful about not being a high school art teacher anymore. Can you imagine? “But I don’ wanna learn the color wheel! You should just tell me how I should mix these colors to get the color I want, because looking at that really simple chart on the classroom wall to figure it out is toooooooo haaaaaaarrrrrd. And besides, I don’ wanna mix blue and yellow to make green — you’re just telling me to do it that way because you’re jealous of how unique I am, and you want to oppress me.” Compared to this sort of nonsense, dealing with students who do crazy stuff like dropping their pants in class or making goat noises for the whole hour is easy. Shockingly easy, in fact. I was surprised how quickly they responded to calm reason: “Fishboy, if you keep dropping you pants in class, everyone will want to do it, and then they won’t be listening to me teach, and that would hurt my feelings.” Boom! Fishboy stops dropping his pants in class for at least the next three or four weeks. He doesn’t even fall to the floor and flop like a fish to demonstrate the source of his nickname. Or, “Do you really think that’s what a goat sounds like, Topher? Well, my mom raises goats, and I can tell you, they don’t sound like that. But since you’re interested in goats, how about you focus today on drawing a picture of goats? No, nothing we can’t hang on the wall when parents are visiting — sorry.” That one didn’t work quite as well, but “Topher” was the student I’d been told not even to say good morning to, because “he might become violent.” Getting him to do anything other than disrupt the class was a major achievement.

(I am so very much not exaggerating in these anecdotes, by the way. I’m actually holding back somewhat.)

The tl;dr version (deliberately hidden so it’s not tooooooo eeeeaaaassssyyyyy to find) of this is, It’s not my responsibility to understand anything for anyone. If you’re reading this, you can read, obviously, and you have access to the internet. That means you have the tools needed to learn stuff for yourself. I’m more than happy to help people who want help, but I’m not going to do all the work, and I’m not going to waste my time explaining anything to someone who’ll just be playing with their phone (literally or figuratively) instead of paying attention.

 

 

 

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Writing Glitch 934

Today’s glitch:

Capitalize daemonic because it is the first word of a sentence. (D’uh!)

Add a comma after repairs (because compound sentences require commas, even if the writer is using UK English — if Pullman can do it, so can you).

Add another comma after so far.

Because it is a proper place name derived from a personal name (of a mythological figure), Hades should be capitalized.

A recent earthquake has weakened the barrier between this plane of existence and the underworld. Daemonic roofers have already initiated emergency repairs, but so far, at least three of the living have managed to find undue refuge in the warmth of Hades.

(No, the example sentences are not passive. Linking verbs do not make a sentence passive. Verbs you consider bland or “clichĂ©” do not make a sentence passive. The only thing that makes a sentence passive is when the subject of the sentence receives the verb’s action rather than performing it. And saying, ‘I don’t agree with that, I call a sentence passive if it isn’t interesting to me,’ doesn’t change the actual definition of the term; it just shows you’re an idjit.)

 

 

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Writing Glitch 933

Today’s glitch:

In the name of this band, The is part of the name and ought to be capitalized. Also, since the song belongs to the band, an apostrophe should be added to the end of Beatles to make it possessive.

Titles of songs should be always written inside double quotation marks.

Don’t capitalize with; it’s one of those “insignificant words” that doesn’t get capitalized in titles.

The last sentence of this example should read, Scientists couldn’t resist naming it after The Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

 

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