Cool Stuff from the Archives

…Otherwise known as recycled/repurposed blog posts that you may have missed.

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Read this article titled “Bad Writing: Good for Laughs and Learning.”

“Most of the ‘bad writing’ […] can be attributed to spell check errors and/or poor sentence structure, but many of the examples point to overwriting or an indiscriminate use of a thesaurus. There are also those that are just poorly written. All of these mistakes could have been caught if the writers had at least used beta readers.”

You’ll laugh.  You’ll cry.  You’ll hit your head on your desk repeatedly (which may be difficult if you’re reading on your tablet or phone) and wonder how many months we have remaining before the ultimate fall of human civilization to space aliens who want to steal all our molybdenum for their own nefarious purposes (which should not be confused with our nefarious purposes, ’cause ours are way better).

Okay, I have no reason to believe that bad writing would ever lead to space aliens stealing our molybdenum (although I also have no reason to believe it won’t), but still…

If you’re feeling really brave, or if you want to find out if you have what it takes to be an editor — someone who can cope with this sort of thing professionally, all the time — you can find the complete list here. Says Miss Snark, the blogger, “All true excerpts from stories submitted to Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. (Spelling, punctuation, and syntax are all as in the originals.)” I now wonder if I can get in touch with Miss Snark and ask for permission to use some of these examples in “Writing Glitch” posts — they’re all so wonderfully, delightfully not written in present tense. Then again, using them for glitches would require me to make sense of them so I could write the corrected versions, and I don’t think I can do that for some of ’em.

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Lunch and the Fantasy Writer, in which Weaver disagrees with and disproves the conventional wisdom that travelers in a medieval-fantasy setting ought not have soup/stew for a meal because it just takes too damn long — several hours — to make.

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One of the things that new writers are told all the time is that a good story must have relatable characters, especially a relatable protagonist. So what does that mean, anyway?

Sometimes the explanation of relatable character defaults to character to whom the reader can relate. Well, d’uh. But that doesn’t tell what it means, and the criteria for relatable and realistic vary as much as readers do, so either there’s some workable general guideline, or the whole issue is irrelevant.

blog-dividerIn April of 2014, I was interviewed by SF/F author Gregory S. Close. You can read that interview here.

blog-dividerI have strong opinions about some things that are more-or-less specific to the SF/F genre(s), things such as whether or not “mental superpowers” are a trope of fantasy or of science fiction.

Psionics: First, whether you believe in it or not makes no difference, but there are agreed-upon terms for this kind of stuff, and using those terms incorrectly in fiction is not going to win you any points with readers who’ve been reading about psions (the term for characters with psionic abilities) ever since they first picked up an Andre Norton novel at the age of ten. Don’t have your telepathic character able to move things with her mind unless she is also a telekinetic. (It’s a bit like calling a creature an extra-terrestrial when it isn’t from any place off the Earth, and hasn’t even been to such a place. Seriously, don’t be that writer. Or that mad scientist.)

Magic: It often seen as the one thing that absolutely divides fantasy from science fiction.  On the other hand, it is, if sufficiently advanced, indistinguishable from technology — or is that the other way around? 🙂

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About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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3 Responses to Cool Stuff from the Archives

  1. I read the first article – hilarious. It reminded me of “History of the World” by Richard Lederer. http://www.verbatimmag.com/sampler.html
    I like the way to express yourself; yours is my favorite blog. As always, thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That list was a painful and hilarious read, and I’m sure I’ve done many of these things highlighted, from the simple typo to the wrong word to over-writing. Thanks for sharing, TW.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. J.R. Handley says:

    Duh, everyone knows the medieval traveler ate MREs!! How silly do you take us for?

    Liked by 1 person

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