Writing Glitch #161

In case you found that last one too easy (“Commas in compound sentences again?”), here’s another glitch for today:


World-class is a compound adjective; so is handwritten. Unfortunately, there’s no clear, hard-and-fast (see what I did there?) rule about when to use a hyphen for such words and when to run them together into a single word, so you may just have to look a word up if you’re unsure. The compound adjective nine-year-old also needs hyphens (and remember that it’s nine-year-old, not nine year-old or nine-year old).

Money is covered by one of those few exceptions to the rule about spelling out numbers. Says The Chicago Manual of Style (9.16), “If an abbreviation or symbol is used for the unit of measure, the quantity is always expressed by a numeral.” When you use a dollar (or pound, euro, etc.) sign, use numerals, but if you write x dollars, spell it out. (Also, don’t write $10 dollars or $6 thousand. These are redundant and wrong.)

A world-class contract killer finds an envelope at his dead drop. Inside is $23.92 in small change and a letter, handwritten by a nine-year-old girl.


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Writing Glitch #160

Today’s glitch:


A compound sentence needs a comma before the conjunction.

I’ve been to nine planets in twelve years, and it’s starting to show.

You can tell this is a compound sentence because you could delete the conjunction and make two smaller sentences: I’ve been to nine planets in twelve years. It’s starting to show. The flow changes — becomes slightly choppy –when you do that, but that may be exactly what you want.

Kudos to the person who created this example for spelling out the numbers and for using the correct form of it’s.

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Writing Glitch #159

Today’s glitch:


It’s a bad idea for real life, which is probably why it would make good fiction.

You don’t need both potential and future. If you don’t mean to imply that the people detected will murder, only that it’s likely, use potential.

The second sentence begins, Those who were tested positive as a potential murderer… At the least, this should be changed to, Those who test positive as potential murderers — if you’re talking about a plural subject, keep it plural.

Other changes were made for clarity and flow (including chopping out a part of the second sentence that I just told you how to fix).

A machine has been created to detect potential murderers. Those who test positive are sent to a deserted island to fend for themselves. You are one of those people.

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Writing Glitch #158

Today’s glitch:


Full-blooded is a compound adjective and needs a hyphen. So does utopian-type (which ought to be shortened to utopian, or at least changed to utopia-type, but whatever).

A full-blooded human suddenly appears in a utopian future where hybrids are normal and humans are creatures of myth.


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The SFF Divide: On the Assumed Validity of Science Fiction Over Fantasy


Listening to other people talk can teach you a lot.

Not only lately, I’ve been hearing more people talk about women in SFF, examining their role and place, the biases against them, the opinions of them, and so on. My reaction to this varies between, “Nothing new here,” and, “It’s about time more people talked about this,” depending on my mood, but something was recently brought up that tangentially made me think about the views of sci-fi and fantasy as genres themselves, and the perceptions thereof.

In Bronwyn Lovell’s article, Science Fiction’s Women Problem, she says the following:

There is a perceived hierarchy of merit operating in these classifications as well: “hard” sounds masculine and virile, while “soft” connotes a weaker, less potent, feminised form of the genre. This is why “hard” science fiction is more likely to be considered among the “best” science fiction, and why the “soft”…

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Authors Answer 99 – That Annoying English Class Question

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

When we were in English class in school, I’m sure we all dreaded that one question that we were always asked. What is that question? Of course, we never liked to decipher the hidden (or obvious) meaning that the author is trying to tell us. But what happens if our books are being dissected in English class?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 99 – If something you wrote was read by an English class, how do you think they would answer this common question: What message is the author trying to convey?

Paul B. Spence

That there is hope.

D. T. Nova

I guess I’ll go with my still-unpublished first novel.

I imagine that a common answer to that question would be “The system is broken, but the will to change it for the better is unbreakable.” Alternately the more simplistic “Queer people can be heroes, and organized religion can be destructive.”

Elizabeth Rhodes

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Writing Glitch #157

Today’s glitch:


This sentence needs a comma after the introductory phrase.

Saying shoved him in the water implies the person was shoved while he was in the water, whereas shoved him into the water means the shove is what put him there.

Also, changing the location of the adverb nonchalantly would greatly improve the flow of the sentence.

Fed up with his constant whining, the training instructor nonchalantly walked up behind him and shoved him into the water.

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